Chatham Jaycees Looking for Volunteers to Help with Christmas Tree Sale
Monday, December 9, 2013 • 5:05pm
CHATHAM, NJ - As Christmas 1967 approached, gasoline was 33 cents a gallon, the Monkees topped the music charts and the Chatham Jaycees were holding their inaugural Christmas tree sale.
Fast forward 46 years: the Monkees are history, gas is a bargain at $3 a gallon and the Jaycees are still selling Christmas trees, once again setting up shop in Chatham Borough at the corner of Main Street and Brooklake Road.
“I’m happy that we’re doing this again but we’re starting to run out of steam,” said Bill Heap, Chatham Jaycees director and the man most responsible for the tree sale’s success in recent years. The biggest challenge, he said, is recruiting volunteers to staff the sale site itself, as people are increasingly time-starved with work, family and social obligations. “We have plenty of high school kids willing to help out for credit, but we need adults to supervise them,” said Heap. “I twist arms a little bit.”
Heap is again in charge of all the setup work, ordering premium-grade trees (Douglas furs and balsams) and their delivery from tree farms in Pennsylvania and Quebec, while coordinating volunteers to sell them on weeknights (6-10 pm) and weekends. Heap still finds it all rewarding, but expressed concern that this year’s sale may be the Jaycees’ last. “We need someone else to run things, to take charge,” he said, adding that if another civic-minded group steps up for 2014, he would be still be available to help out in some way. “If the sale does go away after this year, it’s not likely to come back,” he said.
For Chatham residents in particular, that would be a shame, as the Jaycees’ donate a sizeable portion of their tree sale proceeds to the borough, which ends up helping the efforts of Chatham’s Shade Tree Commission. For example, the Jaycees donated $2,500 to Chatham Borough after each of its last two Christmas sales, which helped fund the Commission’s annual tree planting efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and 2011’s Halloween snow storm.
By making more people aware of the good that comes from the annual Christmas event, Heap added, he hopes to keep a worthy local tradition alive through a new generation of volunteers and the purchase of the trees themselves. “I’d really like to see someone continue what we’ve been doing all these years,” he said.