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The Optimist Club of Mechanicsville would like to thank the community for all its support over the past year, especially in the current economic times. It has been a great 2012 for the club, which was honored to be able to give back to the community it serves.

The Optimist Club of Mechanicsville just completed its annual Christmas tree sales event. This has been held since 1983, starting with less than 100 trees placed modestly in the parking lot of Earl’s Barbecue in Charlotte Hall. Earl’s is no longer there, Rita’s of Charlotte Hall resides in that building now and the area has changed so much. In the following years the trees sales slowly grew and the sites had to grow as well. The club moved its Christmas tree stand lot to Club Sunrise in Charlotte Hall (now Burger King) and later was rooted for many years at DJ’s One Stop in Mechanicsville.

While at DJ’s the event grew to its largest size, a 600-tree event, and the club grew with it. In the late ’80s McKay’s Food and Drug generously allowed the club to set up another stand in its parking lot. Since then the club has endeavored to maintain two lots. In 2010, the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department generously donated its carnival lot as a new stand and staging area. The club has always interacted with other community service organizations and the MVFD/MVRS has always been a large part of the club’s annual operations as well as membership.

At one time the Christmas tree event was the largest fundraiser for the club, but as times changed so has the club. Now the club’s monthly Texas Hold’em tournaments with the MVFD Ladies Auxiliary has become its largest fundraiser. With about 65 club events a year, the Christmas tree event still requires the full effort of the club’s membership to cover the weeknight and full-day weekend shifts. As always, the members pulled together, and with the help of local community service workers provided by the St. Mary’s County state’s attorney’s office, 128 four-hour shifts were manned and 400 Christmas trees were sold.

The club’s members used their own chain saws to trim customers’ trees, used their own vehicles to deliver trees to some select clients, donated their own firewood to keep members warm, and donated their time during the times when most people are shopping or gearing up for the holidays. During the many years of Christmas tree sales the members have heard many stories of all the return customers, customers’ generosity, and the many trees that had to be tied to vehicles’ roofs. Many members have been doing this for a long time, some customers will know the shifts certain members work or ask for them by name. For the last few years another friend of the club, T&T Sweeping and Port-O-Let Service, has donated portable conveyance outlets for the lot workers. The club would like to thank them for their generosity.

This year’s event was the most successful Christmas Tree Event in the Club’s history earning several thousand dollars in only 3 weeks of the scheduled 4 week selling season! Thanks need to go out to co-chairperson Bill Stone and co-chairperson Tom Meador for their tireless efforts during this selling season as well as all the other members who joined in on the event!

That money will be used to support many community service events. Club members collected and delivered Thanksgiving baskets to several families in need, collected and delivered Christmas gifts to several families in need, conducted its annual senior citizens’ holiday luncheon and held its annual Santa Night at the McDonald’s in Charlotte Hall.

You may have never heard of an Optimist Club, but there is one in just about every community all over the world. Just in St. Mary’s County alone, there are six dedicated clubs. If you have an interest to join a club in your community please check out: www.optimist.org[> or if you are interested in joining the Optimist Club of Mechanicsville please check out www.mechanicsvilleoptimist.org[>.

The Optimist Club of Mechanicsville would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a spectacular new year to everyone. Thank you all for helping us give back to our community. Your generosity does not go unnoticed. We hope to see you at an event next year.

Dave Marek, Mechanicsville

The writer is president of the Mechanicsville Optimist Club.