See Christmas trees up and decorated for the Pulaski Masonic Lodge's annual Christmas Gala:
Bob Thomas can't imagine a child's Christmas without a tree.
"A tree sort of makes Christmas," Thomas said as he walked through a room filled with about 20 decorated Christmas trees for the third year as part of the Pulaski Masonic Lodge's annual Christmas Gala in Pottsville.
Thomas said local businesses or organizations are asked to donate and decorate a Christmas tree that will be displayed for two weeks at the lodge, then given to a local needy family, an idea he came up with after attending a similar event several years ago.
"There are a lot of organizations that do things for the needy - Toys for Tots for instance - around the holidays, but we fill a niche. No one is giving trees," Thomas said.
Thomas wasn't alone in the feeling.
George Moyer, Pottsville, a member of the lodge, said, "There's something about a tree that just makes Christmas. The tree, the snow, the decorations, and of course the real meaning for it. It all comes together to make the holiday."
Moyer especially liked the decorations on tree 17, donated and decorated by Lisa's Ladle and the youth group at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pottsville.
Moyer didn't say if it was his favorite, but said trees that pay attention to what children are drawn to were more likely to receive his vote in a contest for best tree, which Thomas said garners the winning group a trophy.
Thomas said groups that donate trees can also ask that they go to a specific family after the event and trees not asked to go to a specific family are given to those identified by local churches as families in need.
"You imagine, buying a real tree, a tree stand, decorations, lights - you're talking upwards of 100 bucks or more," Thomas said. "When we're able to give a family a tree, then that's not taking food off anyone's plates. They can put the money that is stretched to other things they need."
A total of 25 trees were donated, Thomas said, and the event, including voting for a favorite tree, is scheduled next weekend as well.
The event will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and again on Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Masonic Building. Members of the lodge are accepting nonperishable food items and toys at the event for the local food pantry and Toys for Tots respectively, and food is on sale at the event.
Needy families interested in a tree can contact 622-9260. All trees come with the stand and decorations included.
The Pottsville Masonic Building