A program that helps teens learn about the inner workings of democracy will benefit from the proceeds of the annual Christmas tree sale currently underway at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA.
When families arrive at the Y’s parking lot to select a freshly-cut fir tree for their living room, they’re also supporting the local youth, as proceeds from the annual sale can raise up to $60,000 for the Y’s Youth and Government program.
Rick Dennis, the Y’s executive director, community, said that it costs the 128 members of the Crescenta Cañada delegation $1,100 each to participate in the program, and that the sale is a way for the participants to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
“The delegates, the kids who are in the program, are the ones who do all the work,” he said. “The financial reward is huge. They can cut their fee down quite a bit, almost 50 percent.”
Helping more high school students participate in the Youth and Government program is a worthy goal, says Jennifer Malagon, the Crescenta Cañada coordinator for the program
“I think it really gives them a voice,” she said. “And I think it makes them really aware of things that go on outside of their bubbles.”
La Cañada High School student Peter Gilmour, 17, said he agrees. Gilmour began participating in the program last year.
“I had the best time of my life in it,” he said. “It helped me become a lot more aware of what was going on in the government around me, and it helped me a lot with public speaking.”
That said, working the sale occasionally can be challenging, according to Gilmour.
“It mostly depends on the weather, because if it gets really cold, it’s kind of a pain,” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun because it brings together a lot of the delegates who would normally not interact with each other.”
And it’s all worth it when more local students are able to participate in the program, which involves trips to Camp Roberts, a sprawling military training facility outside Paso Robles, and to Sacramento.
“I believe that this helps keep a lot of kids in the program who can’t afford to pay for it necessarily,” Gilmour said. “And it also just helps keep things more affordable for the delegates.”
Dennis said that despite a slight delay in opening the sale on Friday, Dec. 2, due to the windstorm that blew through the area two days earlier, the sale is going well, as the trees arrived after the winds died down and sales are right in line with those of past years. According to Dennis, the YMCA sells around 300 trees a day and aims to sell a total of four to five thousand during the three-week sale.
Of course, for the youth delegates, the tree sale is about more than just selling trees.
“They’re also learning the value of the work,” said Dennis. “It’s the responsibility of being here every day, or every shift they’ve signed up for, and learning the penalties if they don’t.”
Where: The Crescenta-Cañada YMCA is located at 1930 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada.
When: Hours for the Christmas tree lot are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.