For some 30 years, Young Life has been selling fresh-cut Christmas trees in Detroit Lakes.
It's a great holiday tradition that helps raise money for a great cause, and customers include newcomers as well as old-timers who have bought a tree from Young Life every year for three decades, said Peter Paulson, director of Lakes Area Young Life.
The tree lot is located on South Washington Avenue again this year, across from Burnside's and next to Weum Chiropractic.
Tree sales started Nov. 25, and volunteers man the sale every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the weekend prior to Christmas-or until they sell out.
Hours are 4-7 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Three types of Christmas trees fill the lot on weekends: White pines, balsam firs and a premium tree called the Fraiser fir.
Helping to run the sale has become a community-led effort, with families or small church groups coming together to sell trees for a day.
"We have about 30 or 40 volunteers that come and sell trees for us. It's a pretty cool deal," Paulson said.
Volunteers are still needed for the weekend of Dec. 16-18. Call the Young Life office at 847-3567 to help.
The trees go for $40 to $80 and are freshly-cut, unpainted and tend to lose few needles, Paulson said.
"It's kind of a good way at Christmas, not only to buy a tree, but to help kids. It's a fundraiser for Young Life," Paulson said. The money goes towards a program that "helps local kids get to know Christ - and that's what Christmas is really about," he added.
The local Young Life program has about 25 adult volunteers who work with a couple hundred kids in grades 6-12 in the lakes area.
"We help kids be introduced to Christ, help them build friendships, and help get them through what can be a difficult phase of adolescence," he said.
The non-profit organization for middle school and high school students doesn't charge students and their families to participate in the Young Life (high school) or Wyld Life (middle school) programs.
The tree sale is one of three major fundraisers for Young Life. The others are an annual triathlon and spring cupcake sales for summer camp.
"A lot of folks have been really helpful," with the tree fundraiser, Paulson said. "Daggett Trucking goes down to pick up the trees," from the Wolcyn Tree Farm in Cambridge, Minn.
"The wreaths are made by Beautiful Leaf Gardens in Detroit Lakes; Sanford health lets us use their lot; and Outlet Recreation provides an RV so our volunteers can stay warm and toasty."
Young Life prides itself on selling "really good quality trees," said Paulson.
"This is such a cool fundraiser. We all know the Christmas season is about Christ's love. This is a great symbol of that-everybody is looking for a tree, and this is such a unique way to find a tree and help kids at the same time-it lets the community come together."