Sharing the Christmas spirit

Light of Christ Community Garden provides real trees to families.

Susan Gardner’s family owned a tree farm for years in Federal Way. Now, though, her family has decided to sell the property.

But the question remained, what to do with the Christmas trees there?

Gardner decided to partner with Light of Christ Community Garden to donate the trees.

Donna Cox and her husband Jim, who manage the community garden as part of the outreach ministry for the church, were grateful for the tree donations.

Both are now officially retired, Jim from Boeing and Donna from teaching and photography, so their main job now is managing the garden, which at times feels like a full-time job, she joked.

“Pretty much, it feels like it anyways,” Donna said.

Donna and her husband work at the garden every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, she said, but it’s normally closed during the winter.

However, with the influx of trees, it feels like they’re there every single day, she said.

This isn’t the first time Light of Christ has helped give back to the surrounding community, though.

Donna said this year they were able to donate around 6,000 pounds of produce to those in need locally.

Sitting at the front of the garden were about 300 trees, Donna said, and they were able to raise $3,000 from people coming to pay what they could for the trees.

In total, she said they sold about half of the original tree donations. Now, though, residents can feel free to pick up any trees that remain at no cost.

The money made during the sale of the trees will either go towards basic operations and management for the garden or a new shed to house tools and other items, Donna said.

Jessica Cox, the secretary of Kiwanis and the development and communications manager for Communities in Schools, said that Gardner reached out to her directly to see if she could help facilitate finding a place the trees could be donated to.

She first reached out to Shelley Pauls, and Pauls recommended the community garden.

After Cox helped set up the donations between Gardner and Light of Christ, Donna said she helped spread the word around the communtiy via her positions with Communities in Schools to encourage people to get their real Christmas trees from the garden.

Pauls was instrumental in helping gather volunteers to cut the trees and bring them to the Light of Christ.

In an email, she said, “several volunteers enjoyed going to the farm today with chainsaws, trucks and trailers,” on Dec. 2.

Pauls said there was a great turnout to the Christmas Tree Extravaganza that happened Dec. 8 and 9.

“I’ve pretty much had my Christmas thanks to all who partnered with the Christmas Tree Extravaganza,” she said.

For the two days of the extravaganza, Pauls said volunteers manned the garden and helped out families who went to buy their Christmas trees.

“The cherry on top was all the money donated will go to the Light of Christ Community Garden, which is all volunteer run and they grow and distribute thousands of free organic produce to those in need in the community each year,” Pauls said.

Other activities at the extravaganza included hot chocolate and a photo booth for families to pose for pictures with Santa, who got a ride to the garden with South King Fire and Rescue thanks to Capt. Jeff Bellinghausen.

Joe Gryniuk was Santa at this event, a community service duty he really enjoys doing.

It’s not something he seeks out, but if someone asks him to be Santa, he’s more than happy to oblige, including for the Christmas Tree Extravaganza.

“If it wasn’t for that event, there would probably be some people that wouldn’t have Christmas trees,” he said.

According to Pauls, other organizations who volunteered to help make the extravaganza possible include We Love Our City, Do the Right Thing and South King Fire and Rescue.

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