Holiday Tree Lot sparks community spirit

Leena Hussein and Avi Srinivasan

Boys’ Volleyball Head Coach Ed Yeh (right) cuts a tree for buyer Craig Woods (left) at Palo Alto High School’s annual Holiday Tree Lot this afternoon in the Paly Parking lot. The event will continue throughout this weekend and proceeds go directly to supporting the Paly Athletic Department. Tree buyers have the opportunity to donate ten percent of their purchase to a specific Paly sports team. According to Yeh, the support for the Athletic Department brings together a stronger community.” I think it’s nice for it [the tree lot] to be on campus,” Yeh said. “Money goes back in the program and then the volunteers are the parents and the kids, so it gives everybody a chance to be involved.” (Photo: Leena Hussein)

Students and their families are celebrating the holiday spirit with Palo Alto High School’s annual Holiday Tree Lot, which opened this afternoon at the Embarcadero and El Camino Paly Parking Lot. 

The annual event, which is run by Paly Sports Boosters, sells Holiday trees imported from Oregon to community members to support student-athletes. Ten percent of the proceeds go to support Paly Athletics with buyers able to designate their donation money to the sports team of their choice.

 According to the former president of Paly Sports Boosters, Kristen Anderson, the remaining ninety percent of the money that is not directly donated to an athletic team is used for capital expenditure projects and special initiatives all for the Athletic Department. 

Anderson said this event not only benefits Paly athletics, but also gives volunteers a chance to reconnect with the community. 

“I really enjoy getting a chance to work alongside the students who volunteered and then all the people from our community who come and get their tree,” Anderson said. “It’s a happy occasion with their families and it’s a chance to check in with them. I had a former Paly dad who came to pick up his tree and ended up staying and volunteering and that’s kind of what the season is all about.”

Students and coaching staff from every sports team have the opportunity to volunteer in the Holiday Tree Lot, and empty volunteer positions are given to students in Living Skills who need to fulfill their service hours requirement.

Ed Yeh, the boys’ varsity and girls’ junior varsity volleyball head coach, said he chose to volunteer in this year’s event to help gain donations for the volleyball teams.

“They’ve been doing this [Holiday Tree Lot] ever since I was a Paly student,” Yeh said. “But this [volunteering] is helping, this is really helping the volleyball program, so I decided to volunteer.”

According to Yeh, the contribution the sales will make towards the athletic department makes the Holiday Tree Lot more meaningful to student-athletes and their families.

“I think you can buy trees anywhere, but to know that you buy something that helps parents find different ways to help out the [athletic] program in the school makes it a win-win,” Yeh said. “They get something, we get something.”

Craig Woods, the father of a Paly student on the basketball team said the donation aspect of the tree sales is what drew his family into buying a tree from Paly.  

“That [the donations to the athletic teams] is a motivation, knowing that it was going to fund the team,” Woods said. “My son is on one of the basketball teams, but I knew that [the donations] was part of the deal and a reason to buy a tree here and not somewhere else.”

Anderson said a challenge volunteers are facing right now is the shortage of tree imports and the increasing number of online and in-person purchases the volunteers are receiving. 

“I’m scrambling right now to mark trees because we got short shipped quite a few trees,” Anderson said. “They lost about a third of the trees in Oregon due to the drought and the fires last year. So, a lot of the taller trees that we ordered didn’t come in.”

Despite the challenges volunteers are tackling, Woods said this event is a good opportunity for student-athletes to partake in volunteer work and support their team off the field. 

“It’s a nice thing and it’s a good reason to have the kids who are participating on the teams doing something besides just practicing games,” Woods said. “I think it’s nice for them because it’s a good community activity.”

The Paly Holiday Tree Lot will have two more pick-up times 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 from at the Embarcadero and El Camino Paly Parking Lot. 

Students and their families can purchase a Holiday tree in person or online at