Scouts bring Christmas trees to town

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

When the doors flew open on the tractor trailer from Oregon, two dozen Boy Scouts lit up at the scent and sight of one of the sure signs that Christmas is nearly here.

Scouts from Troop 196 unloaded more than 100 trees as they prepped their annual tree lot for the Christmas season, welcoming local residents with the opportunity to pick a tree this year without leaving town, while also contributing to a good cause.

This year, tree hunters can find the Scouts ready and eager to assist at Indian Mound Ranch. It is the troop’s fourth year selling trees as a fundraiser.

Trees – both Noble and Nordmann Firs – are available from 5-7 p.m. weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday until sold out. Selling trees seemed like a better idea than more traditional fundraising options.

“We decided we didn’t want to sell cookie dough or things like that that people don’t want anyway and you have to bug your relatives all the time over,” said Felice Ford with Troop 196. “It was my idea because I knew everyone needs a Christmas tree, everyone needs a Christmas tree every year, and nobody else in Liberty Hill was doing a Christmas tree lot.”

Ford spoke with a Scoutmaster in Georgetown on how they got started doing the same and has patterned the fundraiser in Liberty Hill after Georgetown’s.

“Our family had bought trees from their troop a couple of years in a row and saw they were good quality trees, so that’s how I got started with it,” she said. “But, it was mostly so we wouldn’t have to go door to door selling stuff.”

Before trees, the Troop tried selling Christmas wreaths prior to trees, and Ford said the first couple of years that worked well until the excitement wore off. A tree lot gives the Scouts the opportunity to do almost all of the work themselves.

“The boys can actually do most of the work,” Ford said. “We have the adults here to help and try to guide them, but it’s actual hands on stuff the boys can do to set it up. The boys sell the trees, they will talk to the customers. The parents don’t talk to the customers, they are here for handling cash and things like that.”

It’s not all work, and the open space, cool air and wealth of Christmas trees setting the tone keep Scouts in good spirits.

“They’re out here messing around, their friends are here and in between sales they play around,” she said. “The shifts are only two hours so they don’t get to terribly bored.”

The funds raised come in handy for the Scouts themselves as they work to pay for camp.

“If the boys work a certain number of shifts we have profit sharing,” Ford said. “The money all stays in the troop, and last year each one made about $50 by the time it was all spread out. We were able to apply that toward summer camp, so each kid basically got a $50 discount on their summer camp fees.”

They can also use the funds for Camporee or for Merit Badge University, which is a program connected to The University of Texas where Scouts go and work on merit badges all day.

The troop keeps the other half of what is earned and uses it to purchase needed equipment for camping and other activities.

“We were able to buy all new chuck boxes last year, so there are all new utensils, pots and pans, and we have three different sets, one for each patrol,” Ford said. “We use it for other things too, like we go canoeing so we use the money to rent canoes and other miscellaneous expenses.”

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