Christmas tree prep starts early

Published 9:10 pm Friday, November 26, 2010

Suffolk Council Knights of Columbus members bale a tree for a customer at their tree lot on North Main Street on Friday.

Most folks didn’t start thinking about getting a Christmas tree this year until they were cooking their Thanksgiving turkey.

Mike Bibbo began planning in July.

Bibbo is the chairman of Christmas tree sales for the Knights of Columbus Suffolk Council, a community service organization that sells trees each year at a parking lot near the Fire Mountain restaurant. The Knights took over the lot about three years ago from the Suffolk Jaycees, who ran it for many years.

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“Every bit of the money we make goes back to the community,” Bibbo said. He started planning for the Christmas tree lot this summer by making a budget, contacting tree farms to price trees, planning transportation for the trees and coordinating with local businesses that help make the lot possible.

“I love doing it,” said Bibbo, who’s been running the tree sales for the Jaycees and the Knights for about 17 years. However, he added with a smile that he’s “training other folks.”

Sales already were brisk on Black Friday, as some folks stopped by the lot early to ensure they got the best tree.

“They have much better quality [than retail stores], and it goes to charity,” Suffolk resident Anna Dreiling said as Knights members tied her selection to the top of her SUV.

The Knights of Columbus give the proceeds from the trees to local charities including the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund, scholarship programs, food pantries, Coats for Kids, the Salvation Army, programs for the intellectually disabled and more.

“All the money stays here in Suffolk,” Bibbo said.

Across town, the Suffolk Elks Lodge also is selling Christmas trees and also will be giving the proceeds to local charities, as well as the Elks national foundation. The national foundation conducts scholarship and drug awareness programs. Local charities that benefit from the Elks tree sales also include the Cheer Fund and Salvation Army, as well as the women’s shelter, the homeless shelter and youth sports teams.

“We just got them in this past Saturday,” said James Powell, tree chairman for the Elks. “They look real good.”

The Knights of Columbus are selling Fraser and Douglas firs between 6 and 12 feet tall for prices ranging from $39 to $90. The lot is located at 1202 N. Main St. Club members will put a fresh cut on the bottom of the tree, bale it, load it onto your vehicle and tie it down. The lot is open Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

The Knights of Columbus tree lot was sponsored by Fire Mountain, which provided the lot; Blair Brothers, Inc., which provided the lighting; Stateline Builders, which provided the sales building; and Saunders Supply, which provided the lumber to build the racks.

The Elks Lodge is selling 6-7 foot Canaan firs and 7-8 foot Fraser firs for between $45 and $50. The lot is located at 329 W. Constance Road. It is open Monday through Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.