Our friends at the Wenatchee Exchange Club are going to need the community’s help this year to continue supporting some vital youth programs.

Severe summer heat and drought this year wiped out the Christmas trees that the club was supposed to use for its annual sale at Morris Little League Park. All of the proceeds from the sale, upwards of $17,000 each year, fund programs like Wenatchee Youth Baseball,the Arena Youth Enrichment Fund, the YMCA youth scholarship fund, Wenatchee High School Booster Club, Short Shakespeareans, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Every Kid at the PAC, and others.

With the club’s major fundraiser canceled this year, the service club is facing the prospect of not having any funds to support those efforts.

That’s where we can help as a community. We can donate what we would have spent at the tree lot or whatever amount seems appropriate to the Exchange Club to fund its 2022 contributions.

If you haven’t experienced the Exchange Club tree lot, it is quite the operation. For more than five decades, the club members have been in the business of selling trees. Their members make the tree buying experience something special, which keeps people coming back to the lot year after year. The Exchange Club has been long known as one of the most fun service groups in the valley.

I had the opportunity to chat with club president Ray Ruiz recently about this year’s challenging circumstances. Ruiz has been involved in the club for more than a decade and it has provided a way to connect with service-minded business folks and retirees in the community. Ruiz is an architectural project manager at Confluence Health.

When their tree supplier notified them that there wouldn’t be any trees available, the club checked with other suppliers and found that everyone was in the same boat. That means it’s going to be a different sort of Christmas this year for those of us who are used to the smell of freshly cut trees.

The members are stepping up and helping support this effort with their own financial contributions and are hoping that the community will catch the spirit and help out to get the Exchange Club through this year’s challenge.

Their tree supplier is expecting to be able to supply healthy trees again next year, so the Exchange Club tree sale will continue as a tradition in the valley.

There are some terrific community contributors in that club, such as Greg Oakes and Steve Lee from Cashmere Valley Bank, Bob Siderius and Pat Aylward of Jeffers, Danielson law firm, retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. Fred Deal, and this year’s tree chairman, John Stoll of Chelan County PUD.

Community members can support this effort by sending checks to the Exchange Club of Wenatchee. PO Box 1862, Wenatchee, WA 98807. Tax deductible contributions may also be made to the Community Foundation of NCW for the benefit of “Wenatchee Exchange Club Scholarship” fund via the foundation’s website at www.cfncw.org or 9 S Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801. Funds contributed through the Community Foundation will fund only scholarships.

Let’s see what we can do to help our friends at the Exchange Club out this year and by doing so, help strengthen and support the youth in our community

Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at rwoods@wenatcheeworld.com or (509) 665-1162.

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