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UVic cancels Christmas tree fundraiser due to lack of trees

Victoria -

A University of Victoria fundraiser is the latest victim of this year's weather events and supply chain issues.

The annual Christmas tree sale for the University of Victoria’s track and field and cross-country teams has been cancelled this year.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the teams announced they won’t be selling trees for the first time in over 20 years due to the lack of a suitable supplier and available trees.

This year's weather events have taken a toll on Christmas tree farmers and UVic’s previous suppliers don’t have enough trees to go around this year.

The event has not only been an annual holiday tradition for many in the community but a big fundraiser for the teams, bringing in between $20,000 and $25,000 annually.

Selling over 500 trees a year, the money raised accounted for 50 per cent of the team’s annual fundraising efforts and typically goes towards supporting 40 athletes with travel and competition expenses each year.

“I know that not only are we disappointed but the community is disappointed because it was a tradition for a lot of families to come to our tree lot and connect with our team,” said head coach Hilary Stellingwerff.

“So we’re going to try and re-establish some connections and make some new fundraising efforts but I think it will take a couple of years," she said.

The teams also hold Christmas tree-chipping events in January and track and field camps in the summer, but nothing compares to the tree sales when it comes to raising money.

“We thought about other ways, like a Christmas market, or what are other things other people are doing,” said Stellingwerff.

“We had connected with a local scouts group, that’s who we shared the trees with last year, but nobody can get trees and it’s a big undertaking to repurpose a fundraiser.”

Another fundraising effort they are considering is a soil sale in April. The teams are open to other ideas from the community.

“We’re not going to give up,” said the coach. “We are still going to look for suppliers in the future, but it seems like everybody is at a shortage this year, unfortunately."

The Vikes teams will continue with their annual tree-chipping fundraiser on Jan. 8 and 9 in the Centennial Stadium parking lot. Top Stories

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