ARLINGTON, Va. (7News) — Reporter's Notebook: We've got a follow up to a story your saw first on 7News On Your Side earlier this year. For 75 years, the Optimist Club of Arlington raised millions of dollars for youth sports and scholarships by selling Christmas trees out of a parking lot in Arlington. But Wells Fargo, owner of lot where the trees were sold, didn’t welcome the Optimists back this year. The Knights of Columbus stepped in to help.
The seasonal smell of Christmas trees hangs in the air at the Knights of Columbus parking lot at 5115 Little Falls Road in Arlington. We mention the address because it's at the heart of this story.
“We have Fraser Firs, Balsam Firs, and White Pines of all shapes and sizes from tabletops to 14-footers," said Optimist Club of Arlington past president Brian Kellenberger.
For generations, members of the Optimist Club of Arlington sold Christmas trees as its major fundraiser from a parking lot off N. Glebe Road. The money raised has been invested in youth sports leagues and scholarships for those in need. But the lot’s owner, Wells Fargo, didn’t invite the Optimists back this holiday season. When we put this story together back in July, Wells Fargo refused to say why they booted the Optimists.
READ MORE | Bank boots 'Optimist Club' from parking lot where they sold Christmas trees for 75 years
Soon after that story aired, the Knights of Columbus offered their lot to the Optimists at no charge.
“Getting people back together to serve others, is just a beautiful thing," Nick Beirne with the Knights of Columbus told us.
Beirne, who grew up volunteering with the Optimists during the holiday season, says this collaboration meshes perfectly with their ethos.
“Our mission at the Knights of Columbus and the Columbus Club is to give back to our community and what better of a partnership than with the Optimist Club," he said.
Wednesday morning dozens of volunteers off-loaded the final trees to arrive. To cope with any potential confusion, Optimist Club past president Brian Kellenberger told 7News they had a sign erected at their old tree-selling spot.
“We put a huge sign over at Wells Fargo letting people know that we moved over here," Kellenberger said. "Getting kicked off the Wells Fargo lot, which at the time we weren’t happy about, I think is a blessing in disguise because we came to set up here. The Knights of Columbus were so generous in offering us to use their lot. It’s a bigger space. It’s a beautiful property. It’s right in the heart of Arlington where all of our customers come from.”
Sales begin Friday at noon at 5115 Little Falls Road. You may want to act fast. Last year the Optimists sold out their 2,500 trees in only two weeks. They dubbed this Friday, often called Black Friday, as Green Friday in honor of all the trees they expect to sell.
“It’s going to be able to allow us to put that money back into the community," added Kellenberger.