EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 13, 2013

N.H. charities count on tree sales

Nonprofit groups depend on Christmas tree sales

For more than 30 years, Steven Tomaselli has stopped at St. Marks Lodge 44 Free and Accepted Masons on East Broadway to pick up a holiday tree.

“Everyone I know comes here,” Tomaselli said. “I like to keep my money right in my community.”

St. Mark’s is one of several organizations selling trees for charity, one of “603 Reasons” readers said New Hampshire is special.

Al Lamson, who coordinates the tree sales at St. Mark’s, said he enjoys seeing the same people year after year.

“It’s part of people’s traditions,” he said. “It helps that everyone knows where it’s going.”

The Masons use the money they raise from tree sales to help the Sonshine Soup Kitchen, First Baptist Church food pantry and the Derry News Santa Fund.

In Salem, the Exchange Club has been selling trees for more than 30 years.

“This is by far the biggest fundraiser we do each year,” Exchange Club president Andrew Nelson said. “It’s how we are able to do a lot of the stuff that we do.”

The club is selling trees from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day at Berge’s Real Estate on South Broadway. The fundraiser nets the club about $10,000 each year, Nelson said.

“We’re on track to sell out,” Nelson said. “We buy about 450 trees each year.”

The money goes seemingly everywhere in town. The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem gets a cut for being Berge’s Real Estate’s charity of choice. Salem Boy Scouts and JROTC members help sell the trees and get some money for their organizations in return. The club also uses the money to buy presents for families who cannot afford them.

“Our trees range between $35 and $75,” Nelson said. “But people like to donate an extra $5 or $10 because they know we give the money away.”

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