OAKLEY -- This year's shop local campaign is alive and well in Oakley where Boy Scout Troop 152 is again selling Christmas trees for the fifth year running.
On their Main Street lot, donated by Sheer Security, Scouts and parent volunteers offer personal service while helping customers choose either a Douglas or Noble fir to brighten their holidays.
The Scouts know that their hours will be rewarded as 100 percent of the proceeds go to the boys to be used for Scout activities during the coming year.
Before the tree lot, the troop relied on a number of small fundraisers that earned money to help the Scouts participate in summer camp and other activities. Seven years ago the idea of taking a big trip came about and with it, the question of how to fund it.
"There are so many fantastic things to see all over the country, not to mention the world," said Earl Tanner, Assistant Scoutmaster. "We were wondering how we could fund something like that."
It took some planning, but five years ago the tree lot was up and running and both the troop and the community have benefited since then.
The physical work begins the first of November when work parties clear the lot of weeds, set up fencing and lighting and get everything out of storage. Once the trees are delivered -- 524 this year from Washington -- Scouts and parents get them ready.
"The neat thing about our trees is that every one is standing in water, keeping it fresh," Tanner said.
With trees from 3 to 12-feet, there's one for every ceiling and space. The tree lot also sells fresh wreaths and offers free popcorn and candy canes, plays holiday music and provides a handy barrel for Toys for Tots presents.
Scouts and parent volunteers sign up for shifts that keep the lot manned 24/7. "Every three- to four-hour shift has three to four adults working and five to 10 boys," said Jeff Lim, Scoutmaster. "The Scouts are broken up into different positions, some greet and assist customers, others carry trees to the cashier and to the customer's car."
The Scouts' participation pays off, both in acquiring life skills and a portion of the proceeds from the tree sales.
"The boys learn customer service and how to speak in a professional way," Tanner said. "They have to punch a time clock, be responsible and be on time. If they can't make their shift they have to find a replacement."
Lim sees another benefit from this project -- teamwork.
"It's really brought the boys together in a big way," Lim said. "And to go along with it is all the parent participation. The camaraderie it's built within the adult community working on the lot has really been great as well."
Once the last tree has been sold and bills have been paid, all the proceeds go into individual Scout accounts, the amount determined by the number of days and hours each Scout put into the tree lot. Each boy then uses the funds to pay for Scout activities.
"As Scouting goes we have activities every month -- backpacking, camping, snow boarding and our weeklong summer camp," Lim said.
And then there's the big trip.
This year's was the Southwest trip, where the troop spent 10 days touring the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Zion and Bryce Canyon. "Some of these kids would never get out of California, yet to put them on an airplane and have them camp for two weeks helps them learn leadership and how to take care of themselves," Tanner said.
Troop 152 donates a number of trees to Oakley organizations as part of their thank-you for the community's support, which both Lim and Tanner describe as very positive. They cite loyal return customers and former Scouts, happy to see another Boy Scout tree farm. Another big thank you goes out to all the volunteers, without whom the Christmas tree lot would still be a pipe dream.
As with any holiday endeavor the perfect balance is one in which both sides benefit and this appears to be true with Troop 152's tree lot.
"We always want to give back to the community that's helping our Scouts," Lin said. "The boys plan their activities every year and select what they want to do. Financially, this allows them to do it."
What: Troop 152 Christmas Tree Lot
Where: 3460 Main St., Oakley
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Information: 925-818-0578 or www.troop152treelot.com.