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North Augusta Optimist Club opens Christmas tree lot, raises money for youth activities

The smell of fresh trees, the sounds of Christmas music, and the sight of strung lights are difficult to miss off of Knobcone Avenue in North Augusta.

The North Augusta Optimist Club opened up their annual Christmas tree lot on Nov. 19 for the holiday season. With 300 Fraser fir trees delivered from Wolf Creek Tree Farm in Jackson County, N.C., the group uses the lot as a fundraiser for their organization.

“We do three scholarships every year, we have an essay contest, this year we are kicking off a new oral rhetorical contest,” North Augusta Optimist Club treasurer Joanna Arnold said. “We sponsor our youth appreciation day, which exposes high school seniors to our local government, our Easter egg hunt that I mentioned. Those and several other activities that we do throughout the year.”

According to Arnold, the lot is open for several weeks, usually selling out the trees within two to three weeks. .

“Next weekend will be very very busy,” Arnold said. “We started opening before Thanksgiving about two years ago. It just gives us, we call it a soft opening to start with and I think that people are decorating sooner, it's nice to get into the season, so we like to be open when people are ready to buy their tree.”

The Optimist Club works to bring scholarship opportunities and youth activities to the forefront of the community. The group supports the Community Ministries of North Augusta (CMONA), the RECing Crew, and sponsors several athletic teams within the area.

“We are a civic organization and all of the money stays in the North Augusta community, supporting our youth and so we have a lot of return customers and we appreciate the loyalty,” Arnold said.

Nancy Cowart, a retired teacher from Fox Creek High School and Optimist Club member, loves to help out with the Christmas tree lot.

“I love it, just because of the people that come in and I know so many people and they are always asking ‘What are you doing here?’, so I get to talk to them about the Optimist Club as well, but it's just fun,” Cowart said.

Cowart and Arnold love to get to know the families that come through year after year, and to spread educational outreach initiatives to the community.

“I think it is just fun to get into the holiday spirit,” Arnold said. “...we have had families that have come through for years and so we get to see some of the same faces over and over again. So it's just a really great part of being a part of people’s Christmas.”

“I am really big into community service but I love working in the Christmas tree lot,” Cowart said. “This is my first year to help open on opening night so this is exciting for me. I get to see a lot of people that I know, a lot of people that I don’t know and tonight I am kind of keeping the books. But I like to be out and just talking to other people.”

The Christmas tree lot is open seven days a week. Monday through Thursday the lot is open from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the lot is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Sundays, the lot is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

To learn more about the North Augusta Optimist Club and the educational outreach and resources they provide, visit their Facebook page.

Samantha Winn covers the city of North Augusta, with a focus on government and community oriented business. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews

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