Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another “Op”

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I sometimes call it the “Op Op.” Well, tonight I’m writing about another “Op”—the Optimists. Officially, Optimist International.

They’re on my mind because one of their local annual fund-raisers is to sell Christmas trees. For years, the Jefferson City chapter has had a tree lot on the grounds of the Carpenters Union building (the old Broadway School) on the northeast corner of Dunklin and Broadway.

Right in the center of Old Munichburg.

The week before Thanksgiving, they park their trailer up there, and after turkey day, they’re all ready to start selling trees. And from what I can tell, the prices are quite reasonable.

I like the strings of bare light bulbs, white and red, that they stretch over the tree lot. We can see the lights and trees from our living room windows. It makes me happy. (It makes me feel optimistic!) It is incredibly Christmassy. It is real and true and genuine. Walking through the rows of trees and breathing their coniferous fragrance.

The guys who work there are really friendly and helpful. I guess that should go without saying, though, since they’re Optimists. Right?

I grew up in Columbia, and my parents always get their Christmas tree from Columbia’s Downtown Optimist Club; their main lot is just off Business Loop 70, one block west of the intersection of Providence and the Business Loop. If you’re in Columbia, consider getting your tree there, or at their two other locations. They sell wreathes, mistletoe, and other fresh holiday greenery.

Apart from the lovely fresh firs and pines, and the pleasure of wandering around their charming tree lot, and the friendly folks to help you select and pack up your tree, why should you buy from the Optimists?

If you’re already familiar with the organization (which I am not a member of, in case you’re wondering) you already know the answer to that question, so you can just skim over the next few paragraphs. But I encourage you to reacquaint yourself with their doin’s.

The Optimists are a worldwide organization “dedicated to ‘Bringing Out the Best in Kids.’” They often have the slogan “Friend of Youth” next to their logo. Members in local chapters participate in nationally coordinated initiatives as well as their own local projects for the immediate community.

In order to “help empower young people to be the best that they can be,” the group has an ongoing Childhood Cancer Campaign, teaches Internet Safety, sponsors their Junior Golf Championships, and hosts scholarship contests for essays and oratory.

They promote optimism as a philosophy of life. They teach respect for law, advocate nonviolence, sponsor sports (such as youth baseball programs), have youth appreciation programs, and encourage youth safety.

The local chapter here in Jefferson City sponsors bicycle safety clinics. Remember back in September? They had a bicycle obstacle course for kids during the Tour of Missouri, and they were giving out free children’s bike helmets. Pretty cool, huh?

In other words, these folks are classic, textbook cases of “do-gooders.” By supporting them, you’re doing good, yourself.

My bottom line here is a classic “call to action”: Need a Christmas tree? Then buy from your local Optimist Club.

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