The pickup trucks and trailers rolled across Baker City Saturday morning, stopping at every home where a fragrant green package waited outside.
At each stop Boy Scouts and adult volunteers spilled out into the chilly air and grabbed the Christmas tree, some with a few stray strands of tinsel fluttering from the branches.
The Boy Scouts annual fundraiser is a mixture of planning and a few hours of hectic activity, said Ed Hibbard, a former local Scout Master who’s the Eastern Oregon District commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America.
The Eastern Oregon District includes Baker, Union, Grant and Wallowa counties.
Hibbard, who’s been involved in this annual Christmas tree collection fundraiser for about a dozen years, said Baker City is divided into six zones, with each group of Scouts and adults assigned to one zone.
The event is unusual in that each unit keeps the money it collects from residents’ donations, Hibbard said.
(Donations are welcome but not required; the Scouts collect every tree.)
Although Hibbard doesn’t track the donations for each zone, he said typically the Scouts receive several hundred dollars in all, with approximately $100 to $150 from each of the six zones.
Each unit decides how to spend the money it collects. Hibbard said a common use is to help Scouts attend camps.
With temperatures in the low to mid 30s Saturday morning, conditions weren’t exactly balmy for the Scouts.
But it was pretty pleasant compared with some previous years. In 2017, for instance, temperatures were in the single digits during the tree pick up.
“A lot of people were thankful that it was a relatively mild year,” Hibbard said. “We’ve done it when it was right around zero.”
Scouts also appreciated the warm office at A Cut Above tree service, where the trees were chopped into mulch. Scouts could stop there for doughnuts and hot cocoa while dropping off loads of trees, Hibbard said.
Residents who had their tree collected Saturday but were unable to get a donation to the Scouts can call Hibbard at 541-519-6806. He said he’ll make sure donations go to the unit that picked up trees in the residents’ neighborhood.