Ward Walker initially got into the Christmas tree business as a way to fill the gap between his seasonal lawn service business.
“This is a natural progression with my time,” he said. “As I’m wrapping up my lawn business, I start cutting trees.”
In his 30th year of selling Christmas trees in Pendleton, Walker still has a lot of fun with it. In addition to making a profit, the Pendleton man likes to help brighten the holiday season for people that might be less fortunate.
Reading a person’s body language, Walker sometimes offers a discount. Other times, he merely plays Santa Claus and gives trees away.
“I like to give to people that don’t expect it and would never ask,” he said.
Also, he has held contests on the Walker’s Christmas Trees Facebook page. Last season, he asked for nominations in order to give away a handful of trees. Without knowing the identity of the proposed recipient, people voted by “liking” the nomination. Among a flurry of nominations, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association was moved by the giving spirit, offering stocking stuffer gifts to those in need.
Others have responded with the pay it forward spirit by paying double when making a purchase. Last season, Walker presented a tree paid for by Gene and Mary Hallman to a family that recently lost a loved one.
In 2016, Cindy Moran was touched when her parents, Frank and Phyllis Ritz, were the recipients of someone’s pay it forward generosity. After putting up a small artificial tree for many years, Moran said her mother was hoping for a real tree.
In ill health, she didn’t have many holiday seasons left. After hearing about the octogenarian’s wish, Walker was touched and gave Phyllis’ caregiver a tree.
“This brought tears to my mother’s eyes,” Moran said. “With all the negative things happening in our world, it is good to know that there are still good people who care about others.”
Last season, as it got closer for Santa to make his rounds, Walker needed to take care of his own holiday plans. Posting a message on Facebook and at the tree lot, he let people know it was self-service and they could pay what they could afford. All he asked was that people message him to make payment arrangements.
Although there were a few grinches who stole Christmas trees, Walker won’t let the actions of a few deter his holiday spirit.
“It’s a cool feeling to help others,” Walker said.
Walker’s Christmas Trees is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (except opening at 9 a.m. on Saturdays). it’s located in the 800 block of Southgate between Abby’s Legendary Pizza and Wendy’s. For more information, call 541-969-8412 or search Facebook.