By Anne O'Connor
TOWNSEND -- Scrooge came early this year.
Long before some of us were ready to start thinking Christmas, someone made off with the Lion's Club trailer. They need it in order to hold their annual Christmas tree sale at Townsend Common.
The club also needs the stuff that was in or around the trailer: the wooden tree-holding racks, the propane heater and tank and all the bits and pieces accumulated over the years.
Things need to be replaced quickly, said Bob Ellis, the president of the local chapter. The Christmas tree-selling business heats up even before Thanksgiving when the volunteers need to set up the lot.
The trailer and equipment probably went missing over Labor Day weekend. When the member storing it at his home at the intersection of Route 19 and 31 in Ashby came back, it was gone. The racks leaning against the closed restaurant at the site were also gone.
"They could pull it with a pickup," Ellis said.
The police looked in all the obvious places, such as campgrounds, Ellis said, but the trailer was not to be found.
It was time for the communities that the Lions help to help the Lions. "Immediately, we jumped on a GoFundMe page," Ellis said.
As soon as the word got out, Dave Lammi, an Ashby resident, donated another trailer.
Members went to check it out and said it filled the need.
Ellis dropped GoFundMe goal from $5,000 to $1,200.
The Christmas tree sale is the club's largest fundraiser, netting between $5,000, and $6,000 each year, Ellis said. The club gave three $1,000 scholarships to North Middlesex Regional High School last year.
They also donate to TEO. The Townsend Ecumenical outreach runs both a food pantry and clothing closet.
If Lions had needed to purchase a used trailer, the amount of donations made would have suffered, Ellis said.
The club still needs to replace all those other things: the chain saw, the empty cash box, electric cords and lights.
"Lots of folks are reaching out with kind words or cash," Ellis said. "Either is acceptable."
The GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/townsend-lions-club-trailer.
Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.