Cheney Free Press -

By James Eik
Staff Reporter 

More than Nobel Firs at Teen Challenge’s lot

Reindeer and a camel help add holiday ambience to tree sales


James Eik

One of the most beloved of holiday animals, reindeers help complete the atmosphere at the tree lot in Airway Heights.

The holiday season is in full swing at Teen Challenge’s Christmas tree lot, evidenced by a stock of trees, games for kids and even the two reindeer at the site.

Tony Cloud, program coordinator for Teen Challenge, said the lot has been the organization’s site for Christmas trees for the last six years. Continuing off the success of its pumpkin patch in October, a number of amenities help make it a destination for Airway Heights residents and those in the area.

The 600 trees on the lot, ranging from Douglas Fir to Noble Firs, were grown in Washington and are rated at one on a scale of one-to-six, one being the highest quality. In all, the organization has made it a priority to support businesses in the state. In addition to the trees, fresh wreaths are available for $20, and yard signs are priced at $10, with all funds going directly to Teen Challenge.

“This is our community,” Cloud said. “This is where our center is. Airway Heights, this is our home.”

The tree lot, which opened last weekend and closes Dec. 23, has two reindeer on loan from Reindeer Express and a camel to add to the holiday atmosphere. Signs also provide entertaining information on the animals, ranging from their traditional food to distinguishing a reindeer from a caribou.

Cloud has a background in working with exotic animals, while the students helping at the tree lot went through training on how to handle the camel and reindeer.

Teen Challenge currently helps 50 students with its 12-month non-tuition program. Students live on the organization’s property in an effort to curb use of illegal substances and find a new perspective in life.

Cloud said it costs $2,250 per student for each month. Much of the funds end up coming from events like the tree lot.

Nationally, Teen Challenge has an 86 percent success rate after five years, Cloud said, making it one of the highest-rated recovery programs in the country. Other chapters exist worldwide.

“Not only can we benefit Spokane, but we can benefit our brother and sister regions in Uganda,” Cloud said.

The two weekends leading up to Christmas, from 2 to 6 p.m. Dec. 15-16 and 22-23, photos with reindeer and Santa will be available for an additional cost.

Also, two sheds are available for purchase, built by Household of Faith.

Students in the program who help to work also gain a new perspective through their service to others in the community. In all, the spirit of the holidays is easily seen among everyone donating their time.

“It adds a sense of accomplishment and value to their serving others,” Cloud said.

James Eik can be reached at

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