It was 10 days until Christmas and the Giallongo family still didn't have a tree for their living room.
"It's been a busy holiday season," said Paula Giallongo as she, her husband Steve and the twins, Connor and Emma, were preparing to purchase a nice, tall evergreen from the Belmont Lions Club at the foot of the commuter rail station on a sunny and cool Saturday, Dec. 15.
"(Christmas) sort of snuck up on us," she said, adding that they usually rely on Grace, the youngest sibling, to select the tree but she's been sick and the attempt to "bring" her to Belmont Center via their iPad didn't work out.
"She always picks out the best tree," said Giallongo as volunteers prepared to wrestle to tree onto the roof of the family car.
"But this is a fabulous tree. They always have the best," said the Belmont resident referring to the annual sale by the Lions.
This year the local office of the worldwide service organization – comprised of a network of business and community volunteers who work together to answer the needs that challenge communities – brought more than
Dan MacAuley, Lion's president and the Belmont Police's 911 Operations Manager, said the club brought 2,500 trees and 2,200 wreaths to the club's headquarters located at the head of Common Street and expects to sell the last of the supply this week "so people should come by now before we run out."
And when the last of the trees are sold, the club members will get together for their annual cigar party.
The money raised will go to eye research, which is the main charity of the entire organization, along with supplying scholarship money to High School graduates and towards youth and high school sports teams.
This year all tips received will be heading to the JLK Sanfilippo Research Foundation that raises awareness of a very rare genetic syndrome called Sanfilippo Syndrome, as well as develops therapies that will combat its effects. MacAuley is neighbors to the Burke family whose daughters suffer from the syndrome, three of only 100 known cases worldwide.
While MacAuley expected more people on Saturday, Martina Lehoux of Watertown was carrying a wreath and waiting for the tree her daughter, Jillian, selected and her husband, David, purchased.
"We've been paying for trees here for many years," said Lehoux as his daughter picked up a broom to help sweep the needles that fell off the tree she picked.
"I wish she would do that at home," said Martina Lehoux.