Loretta Donnelly shortens the trunk of a holiday tree during opening day at the SASG holiday tree lot on Friday, Nov. 24.
Loretta Donnelly shortens the trunk of a holiday tree during opening day at the SASG holiday tree lot on Friday, Nov. 24.

The Seattle Area Support Groups’ holiday tree lot broke a sales record in 2016, and volunteers hope to do it again this year.

“It’s been a little bit more than normal today,” said Loretta Donnelly with SASG, who is spending her seventh year volunteering at the lot at 304 17th Ave. E.

The lot opens the day after Thanksgiving, and will offer several varieties of fir trees and a White Pine and Norway Spruce through Dec. 23.

“We’ve had people come here every year for the last 20 years, when it was in the backyard,” said Donnelly during opening day on Friday, referring to the nonprofit’s old home, the Dunshee House, at 303 17th Ave.

SASG moved to its new office and community space at 115 15th Ave. E. in late 2015. The Dunshee House was torn down to make way for rowhouses in June.

Donnelly said the SASG holiday tree lot has been working with Alpine Farms in Belfair for the entire 28 years it’s been running in Capitol Hill. It is SASG’s largest fundraising event, and revenue from the annual tree lot supports the nonprofit’s services, including HIV testing, peer groups and coaching.

The holiday tree lot has been held in a parking lot owned by Group Health for the past four years. Kaiser Permanente acquired Group Health in January.

“Kaiser Permanente actually honored the same deal that we had,” said Rivet Clem, tree lot manager.

In addition to providing the lot, KP is also providing a generator and fuel while SASG covers its trailer.

“Those three things alone are majorly expensive,” Clem said of KP’s contributions. “If we had to rent a lot like this, we probably wouldn’t make any money.”

Justin VanDyke said it was his second time buying a tree from SASG.

“We used to live not too far from here — a couple blocks — and now we live in Wallingford, but we like the trees a lot,” he said.

Trees are priced by height and species: Noble, Fraser, Turkish, Douglas, Nordmann and Grand firs, a White Pine and Norway Spruce.

Clem said people can also buy trees online to donate to people who can’t afford their own. Also, this year people can opt to have their trees flocked — spray-painted with a biodegradable substance made from cotton — at $4 a foot. Trees are traditionally flocked in white, Clem said, but SASG went with hot pink because it’s Capitol Hill.

Donnelly said volunteers are needed most during the busier times on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. She’s quite comfortable operating the chain saw, and said some trainees try to push it back and forth like a manual saw.

“It’s like, wait a minute, let the saw do the work,” she said.

The lot is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 23. 

Find out how to purchase a tree for a person in need or sign up to volunteer at sasgcc.org/treelot.