WEST WARWICK — In the parking lot of the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, rows and rows of balsam fir trees stand on display, ready to be sold through an annual fundraiser that over more than three decades has become quite the tradition.
“If you want to get outdoors instead of sitting inside on a tablet, you should come over here to get a tree,” Brett Silva, a senior leader of Boy Scouts Troop 31 Crompton and a junior at Coventry High School, said Sunday of his troop’s fundraiser.
Proceeds from the Tree Stand fundraiser — which also includes a wreath sale — will help fund the troop’s trip to Camp Yawgoog, a weeklong summer camp in Rockville that Silva said offers its campers a true Scouts experience.
“We have weekly meetings, but at a meeting you don’t really get the Boy Scouts experience,” he said. “This [fundraiser] helps with keeping costs low for Scouts so all people can go on the trip.”
Silva was joined Sunday by Dave Stamos, scout master of Troop 31 Crompton, as well as some adult volunteers and a handful of the 34 Scouts who make up the troop. The air was crisp, hinting at an impending snowfall, as the boys arranged the trees and prepared to make some sales.
Members of the troop, including some girls who have recently joined, signed up ahead of time to cover shifts at the Tree Stand. The hands-on work won’t only benefit the Scouts next summer, Samos said, but will also help them hone some of the characteristics important in scouting — qualities like leadership, teamwork, citizenship in the community and self-sufficiency.
“We’re trying to teach them to, one, earn their own way,” Samos said. “So they earn their own way to summer camp because they work hours here.”
The trees for sale through the festive fundraiser are mostly balsam fir, sourced from South County Farms and cut fresh each week. They range in price from $39 to $45, depending on size.
Troop 31 in past years has typically sold around 300 trees during the fundraiser’s duration, Samos said, adding on Sunday morning that the troop so far this year had already sold 42 since the fundraiser kicked off Friday.
And those who need help paying for a tree may be able to get their tree at no cost, thanks to the generous contributions by several businesses.
“They donate $50 to buy a tree, then we donate it to a family that comes in and says, ‘hey, we can’t afford a tree,” he said, adding that the troop is still accepting donations from businesses. “We never say no.”
Samos also lauded the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society for donating the space as well as electricity for a trailer where the Scouts can retreat to for warmth.
The Troop 31 Crompton Tree Stand is open daily for the next couple of weeks at the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, 11 Ventura St., West Warwick. The stand runs from 4 to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.