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Young Life celebrates 30-year fundraiser

Young Life volunteers set up shop in a vacant parking lot along Highway 10 west of Detroit Lakes where the old Grover-Lindberg Truck Stop used to be. Photo courtesy of Brittney Eischens1 / 2
Holiday wreaths are also being sold for $35, while the Christmas trees are going for $40-$80, depending on the type and size of the tree. Money raised goes towards clubs and camps for Young Life youth members. Photo courtesy of Brittney Eischens2 / 2

This Christmas season marks the 30th anniversary of the Young Life Christmas Tree sale, and like all years, the volunteers are out in full force.

Young Life is a Christian youth organization for Detroit Lakes area students sixth through 12th grade, and they’ve made Christmas tree sales their longest standing tradition.

The fundraising event is set up along Highway 10 on the west side of Detroit Lakes in a vacant lot where the Grover-Lindberg Truck Stop once was.

It’s hard to miss the location, as big pine trees are lined up on the lot every weekend after Thanksgiving.

Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir and White Pines are going like hot cakes, and Young Life Area Director Peter Paulson says there’s a reason for that.

“These things are gorgeous,” he said, saying they ordered nearly 300 trees this year from their usual place called Wolcyn Tree Farm in Cambridge, Minn.

Paulson says he believes these trees are a step above most of what can be found at most stores because they are not cut until right before they are delivered around Thanksgiving.

“Sometimes you get places where their trees are cut months and months before, and they’ll spray them with a chemical so they don’t die, but ours are great quality. They’ve got a great smell, and we know they were grown and harvested from a place that we know and trust.”

Paulson says he can’t believe the sheer amount of volunteer effort that makes this fundraiser a success — everything from Daggett Trucking in Frazee donating its trucks and time to transport the trees to the students, to parents and community volunteers who stand out on the lot every weekend to sell them.

“That new RV place along Highway 59 and 10 (Recreation even donated the use of a nice RV for our volunteers to keep warm in while they’re out there,” said Paulson, who says volunteers help tree buyers load them up into their vehicles.

Balsam Firs and White Pines are $40, the Fraser Firs are $60 and the very tall mix pines are $80.

Paulson says it’s the more expensive Frasers that tend to fly off the lot the fastest.

“They are, in my opinion, the perfect Christmas tree because they have soft needles that aren’t prickly so the kids don’t poke themselves, they hold their needles really well, they have a neat fragrance and they’re just beautiful,” said Paulson.

The Young Life volunteers are also selling authentic holiday wreaths for $35.

Paulson says many years they sell most of the trees they have on stock, and in some years they even sell out.

“We try to order enough so that we don’t run out,” he said. “We don’t want somebody driving up to buy a tree and have to tell them, ‘Here ya go, here’s your one option,’” he said with a laugh.

Paulson says the fundraiser began three decades ago as Young Life leaders then searched for a way to fund the organization and the kids who wanted to go to camps and meets.

“And there weren’t a lot of places to get Christmas trees then, so they thought they’d try this,” said Paulson, who laughed at how the first year volunteers didn’t have specific prices and simply let buyers barter with them because the trees that year weren’t all that good anyway.

“But it still went well, and they decided it should continue,” said Paulson. “So the next year they actually specially ordered a bunch and it just went from there.”

Paulson says they do see a lot of familiar faces buying the trees, as some families make buying a tree from Young Life a yearly tradition.

“Maybe a long time ago somebody remembers their family buying them every year as a kid, and now they’re back as parents making it a part of their own family’s tradition,” he said, happy that the organization he loves has such a close connection with Christmas.

“Our mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith,” said Paulson, “and so I think it’s just awesome that we get to do a fundraiser that centers around the real reason behind Christmas.”

The money raised will be used for weekly club meetings, summer camps and ball camps for area Young Life students.

Volunteers will be manning the tree sales this weekend and next Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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