BILLINGS – An army of students from Billings Central Catholic High School were on site Sunday afternoon at St. Pius X Parish in Billings to help unload and organize a truckload of Christmas trees for a fundraiser. Knights of Columbus Fund.
“You smell like the Christmas tree afterwards, so it’s always nice,” said John Pender, 16, a sophomore at Central High.
Christmas trees have been on sale at the church for more than 40 years, said Phillip Zeeck, tree lot manager and member of Knights Council 9976. The Knights have ordered around 700 trees for sale this year, he said.
“Originally the school was doing it as a fundraiser, then it was too much work for them, so the Knights took over. We decided that this would be a way for us to fund our various charities that we support, ”said Zeeck.
“Some of them are: Family Service on the South Side, St. Vincent de Paul, we support the LaVie Pregnancy Crisis Center. There are a lot of people who come to us for help and we are almost always able to help, ”Zeeck added.
Two Knights’ Councils combine fundraising: Council 9976 in St. Pius and Council 1259 at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Billings Heights, Zeeck said. The price of trees ranges from $ 35 to $ 90, depending on the size.
Zeeck said the group normally ran out of trees by the second week of December.
“It’s always a successful fundraiser. It’s better some years than others. But there is a shortage of Christmas trees. We don’t get the trees we order, it seems. But we have a lot of trees this year, ”said Zeeck.
A drought at the Christmas tree supplier in Sandpoint, Idaho meant the Billings Knights might not get their usual supply of trees, but the cargo did eventually arrive.
“They had the same drought there as us. It was a bit more difficult. These trees don’t grow that fast when it’s dry,” Zeeck said.
Central students take a religion course, which requires 10 hours of community service per semester. Unloading trees is a quick way to save hours for some students.
Filippo Caporaso, 17, was helping to unload the truck. He is a foreign exchange student from Como, Italy, and has said he hopes to share the Italian Christmas tradition with his classmates.
“I hope I understand the American Christmas tradition better. I hope to return to Italy to share with my friends and family so that we can share the culture and tradition. But I also hope to bring my tradition here so that I can exchange culture and tradition, ”said Caporaso.
In Italy, there is a strict tradition when you go up and down your tree, Caporaso said. The tree goes up on December 8 and is cut down on January 6 and the trees are not as decorated in Italy as they are in the United States, Caporaso said.
“We still have Christmas trees. Maybe they are not as beautiful as they are here. Christmas decorations are not as important in Italy as they are here, ”Caporaso said.
For other students, this is not their first rodeo on the Christmas tree. Halle Anderson, a 15-year-old freshman from Central, said she was helping out long before she was a high school student.
“I have been helping with Christmas trees since I was little. My father is one of the Knights, so since I have been, I don’t know how old I am coming with him to at least sit in the trailer and help out there. Now that I’m older I can help deliver trees and stuff, ”Anderson said.
Anderson said unloading the Christmas tree always marks the start of the holiday season for her.
“It’s always been so much fun. I always love coming with my dad whenever he decides to volunteer here and help and see all the families looking for their perfect Christmas tree and help them find the perfect Christmas tree Anderson said.
People can buy a tree Monday through Friday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The lot of trees will be open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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