Lights dangle above Douglas and noble firs. Wood chips blanket the front lawn. A fire burns off to one side, carols play on the stereo and free hot chocolate is available.
The Raneys got into the Christmas tree business to raise money for a mission trip to Swaziland, an African nation that has been beset by HIV and AIDS.
“We know that we can bring hope to people through food, through the love we bring them, through the clothing we bring them, and by acting out our faith,” Matt Raney, 37, said.
Raney heads up Adventure Soccer, a nondenominational group that aims to build children’s athletic skills and character through sportsmanship.
Raney and his wife, Kymm, learned about Swaziland from missionaries based in the Northwest. The couple was shocked by the statistics on the tiny country, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique.
Swaziland has the world’s highest rate of HIV and AIDS, and its people have an average life expectancy of 32 years, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
“There had to be something we could do about it,” Matt Raney said.
He wants Adventure Soccer to raise enough money to send 20 people to Swaziland in August. The group will feed and clothe orphans, teach them soccer and, if funding permits, build an addition to an orphanage.
The group didn’t want to ask for handouts, however, so instead they are devising fundraisers that give donors something tangible.
The group already made $3,200 during a Mexican food night at El Paraiso in Snohomish. Volunteers worked at the restaurant as waiters and busboys, serving food and raising money.
The tree sale, meanwhile, came together quickly.
“It was only a thought a month ago,” Kymm Raney said.
Matt Raney, a landscaper, teamed with a number of different people to pull it off. Wood chips were donated and a nursery offered 150 trees at wholesale. A friend baked cookies, which are being given away with the hot chocolate.
The professional setup impressed one customer early Friday morning.
David Cobb swung by to get tree for his front porch. He wanted something that could be planted after Christmas. Raney has that as an option.
“It’s a great selection, the prices are great and it’s for a great cause,” Cobb said, munching on a cookie. “What else can you do?”
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trees for Swaziland
The Raneys will sell a variety of evergreen trees from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at their home, 13026 Second St. SE, Lake Stevens. Trees range from 5 feet to 8 feet tall and cost $35 to $50.
More info: Call 360-568-1256 or visit www.adventuresoccer.org.
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