Volunteers relish tradition of Bishop John Carroll Christmas tree lot

Fundraiser expands with second location

By Anamaría Scaperlanda Biddick

 

Bishop John Carroll School’s 54-year tradition of selling Christmas trees during Advent is now part of the Holiday Pop-Up Shops in Midtown Oklahoma City.   

The Pop-Up Shops, located at 1000 N. Walker, open each weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas with selections from local businesses around the metro area.  The businesses range from Native Roots, the downtown grocer featuring local produce, meats and cheeses, to Collected Thread, a handmade boutique in the Plaza District, with stores selling stationery, wooden toys and high-end make-up in between.  The Holiday Shops, sponsored by Saint Anthony Hospital, are now in their second year.  This is the first year with John Carroll’s tree lot.

Allison Bailey, who organized the shops, wanted to incorporate Christmas trees into the project.  She made unsuccessful phone calls until she was referred to John Carroll School with its longstanding tradition of selling Christmas trees as a fundraiser for athletics at the school.  The fundraising parents are happy to participate and expand their annual Christmas tree fundraiser to two tree lots.  The original tree lot is located at 31st and Western, south of the school.

Mike Dumont, head of this year’s tree lot fundraiser, said that, with the second tree lot, they ordered 150 more trees than last year and expect to sell out a week earlier. 

The fundraising tradition dates back to 1959, when the men of the school wanted to raise more money for athletics than their wives and other women of the parish; they decided to sell Christmas trees.  Led by Hugh Maguire, Rollie Mueller, Bob Sine and Dan Venard, the group purchased the first year’s trees from personal contributions. 

Now, all athletic families volunteer at the tree lots, even on cold days, selling high quality trees sourced from North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest. 

“We have four kinds of trees,” Dumont said. “Frasiers, Nobles, Nordman and Douglas.  The Nordman is a new tree, and we are one of the only people in Oklahoma who have it.  It is a really nice tree, good for people with allergies with thick, full branches.”

Saturday, Dec. 7, Mark Ruffin volunteered for a two-and-a-half-hour shift in sub-freezing temperatures alongside Carrie Rossow, John Carroll’s art teacher and mother of eighth grader Jacob and graduate Ethan.  Ruffin, himself a graduate of the school, is the father of children in eighth, fifth, and first grades.  He has been volunteering at the tree lot since he was a young adult in the parish – before he even had kids. 

“It’s service,” he said.  “It’s been part of the church forever, part of the fabric,” so he started volunteering once he became an adult. 

Steve Jacobi, who took the afternoon shift with Jim Olivas on Dec. 7, has also been volunteering since before he had kids in the school. 

“It was some way to contribute to the parish community,” he said, “And we were fairly sure our kids would go to the school.”

“My wife and I used to do an evening shift, and she’d address Christmas cards while I worked on the lot,” he reminisced.

Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick is a freelance writer and math tutor living in Oklahoma City.  

IF YOU GO

Both lots are open until Dec. 22nd or trees sell out

School lot times:

Weekdays 5:30-8pm

Weekends: 9am-8pm

Midtown lot times:

Weekdays 5:30-8pm

Saturdays 11am-9pm

Sundays 12-6pm