Trucker helps out Christmas tree fundraiser

For more than a decade, Andy Roberts has been picking up trees from as far away as Chilliwack and bringing them to Trail.

We all know how Santa Claus comes to town.

But how do the hundreds of evergreens arrive from forest and tree farms to Butler Park for the annual Kiwanis Christmas tree fundraiser?

For more than a decade, Andy Roberts has been volunteering time and sometimes, student drivers, to make the trek to the East Kootenay to load natural trees and, since last year, Chilliwack for cultured varieties.

Roberts is president of the Mountain Transport Institute, a professional truck driver training school in Castlegar, and makes the yearly round trip, free of charge, for a few reasons.

“We realize that when we are training our new drivers on our local roadways that we do delay people from time to time,” said Roberts. “This is one way we can give back to the communities that we operate in.”

When possible, a student will be on board during the eight-to-12-hour trip to Fort Steele, Wasa and Invermere, or to Chilliwack overnight, along with instructor, to pick up the festive foliage and fill a 53-foot trailer.

“This gives the student real life experience planning the trip and finding the location,” explained Roberts. “But if it doesn’t fit well with the schedule, I’ll go myself.”

Robert’s will drop off almost 400 cultured trees and a limited number of specialty fir and spruce species at Butler Park early this week at no charge to the Kiwanis.

The Trail Smoke Eaters were on hand to unload the Christmas trees before Roberts headed out with the rest of the fragrant load to deliver, at no cost, to the Castlegar Rotary Club.

“Both the Kiwanis and Rotary Club are excellent local organizations that provide real value to our communities,” explained Roberts.

“The service we provide allows them to have a higher profit on their fundraiser,” he said, adding, “And that money can be put towards worthy projects in our communities.”

The trees will be for sale from Nov 29 to Dec. 23, Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Friday until 8 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We try to get the best tree available for the best money,” said Trail Kiwanis, Brian Pipes.

“This year we have the creme de la creme,” he continued. “Which is the Fraser fir and Nordmann fir in a limited number. And we will be handing out a feedback card with each tree so we know how satisfied the community is with the quality of tree.”

Money raised from the tree sale is distributed to various local charities, and dispersed in bursaries to many of the area’s graduating students.

The Kiwanis will have a box on site for nonperishable food items, with all donations going to the Trail United Church food bank.

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