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Chris Sears, left, an Eagle Scout, helps a German tree vendor unload a delivery of Christmas trees at Ramstein Air Base on Friday. Boy Scout troops are selling trees through Dec. 20 to raise money for Scout activities.
Chris Sears, left, an Eagle Scout, helps a German tree vendor unload a delivery of Christmas trees at Ramstein Air Base on Friday. Boy Scout troops are selling trees through Dec. 20 to raise money for Scout activities. (Chris Miles / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — With the holiday shopping season kicking into high gear, the hottest item on many people’s list is a tree.

And in the Kaiserslautern military community, shoppers can get that tree while helping a good cause.

Area Boy Scouts are holding daily tree sales on Ramstein Air Base, just south of Building 201 and the USAFE headquarters streetlight, earning money to sponsor Scout activities.

“This is our big money maker,” said John Mol, the Scout coordinator of tree sales. “This is our Girl Scout cookies sale.”

Trees sold by the Scouts cost between $35 and $50. They went on sale the day after Thanksgiving and will be sold until Dec. 20.The money earned is divided among nine Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops at Ramstein and used to fund future Scout activities.“It’s a great opportunity to help the community and usher in the holiday season,” Mol said.

So far 100 of the Scouts’ 250 trees have been sold, he said. Another shipment was brought in on Friday due to the demand.“Sales have been really good this year,” said Patty Bolan, a parent who has volunteered for eight years at the tree sales lot. “Everyone is looking for the nice, perfect-looking Christmas tree.”

Five kinds of trees are available: blue, white and red spruces and two types of firs.

“The trees most people are interested in are those producing the best smell,” Bolan said.

Trees run as tall as 12 feet and Scouts are on hand to cut them down to specific sizes, bind them in a net and help load them onto vehicles.

David Sears, who leads one of the Ramstein Scout troops, said that the tree drive is done as an educational and recreational program to allow Scouts to learn entrepreneurial and communication skills.

Last year the Scouts made around $12,000 from the sales. The first two weeks this year have netted around $2,000 and Sears said that the Scouts hope to make $10,500.

Every night since opening day, the troops have sold approximately 10 to 15 trees, he said. On Friday nights, the peak of the sales week, he says a tree is sold every 10 minutes.

Sears said that the troops aren’t looking to compete with Army and Air Force Exchange Service Christmas sales and don’t sell what can be bought at post and base exchanges, including tree stands. AAFES is not selling cut Christmas trees.

The Ramstein sales lot is open 5-8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Chris Miles/Stars and StripesEagle Scout Chris Sears, left, helps a German tree vendor unload a delivery of Christmas trees at Ramstein Air Base on Friday.

How to make your tree last through the holidays

To help make your cut Christmas tree last longer, make sure it is watered daily.

“Every day, believe me, the trees will drink it up, and it will help keep the needles from falling all over the place,” said Mike Owyen, Yokosuka Japan Navy Exchange regional divisional manager.

Owyen also cautioned against placing the tree too close to any heat source — especially electric heaters — to avoid drying it out.

And the straighter and more balanced the tree, the less chance of it falling over.

“Use the right size stand for your size tree,” Owyen said. “The larger the tree, the deeper and wider the stand should be.”

As for preservation, many exchanges sell a solution that can be added to the water. For those who prefer to do it themselves, adding sugar or a can of soda to the water will help extend the tree’s life.

David Sears, leader of one of the Ramstein, Germany, Boy Scout troops, suggests mixing Sprite or Mountain Dew and asprin with the water.

“All cut trees will eventually begin to drop needles,” Owyen said. “But with a little care, your tree should remain ready to enjoy through Christmas.”

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