December 5, 2017

Brewery Business: Meet Angelina from Aunt Leah’s Tree Lot

For over 20 years Aunt Leah’s Tree Lots have been raising money to fund programs that help prevent children in foster care from becoming homeless, and young mothers from losing custody of their children. We're proud to include Aunt Leah's Christmas Tree Lot as a seasonal part of The Brewery District community. Aunt Leah’s Christmas Tree Lot has grown into one of the largest charity tree lot organizations in all of Canada.

The tree lots operate under the leadership of Angelina Oates, Director of Social Enterprises for Aunt Leah's.  We had the pleasure of asking Angelina about Aunt Leah's Place, the tree lots, and more. Keep reading to find out what she had to say:

What made you want to become involved in Aunt Leah’s and helping youth who’ve been in foster care?  

In the mid-90’s one of my close family members was a participant of Aunt Leah’s House, training and later on Support Link. I watched her receive a number of valuable life skills from Aunt Leah’s as she learned how to be a teen mom in foster care. She stayed connected to Aunt Leah’s and more than 10 years later, she encouraged me to apply to the training department. For the first 5 years, I worked directly with the youth training employment skills and realize Aunt Leah’s was special.

How do the funds raised from Christmas tree sales help youth involved in Aunt Leah’s programs?

100% of the funds raised from the Christmas Tree Lots go directly back in to the programs. Each year the funds help fill a gap in a program that may not have made its goal, needs extra funds to keep it going, or maybe just help for the little extras that it may not have been able to provide without tree lot funds.

Could you share a favourite success story of someone who’s been helped either directly or indirectly by Aunt Leah’s Christmas Tree Lot?

Each year Aunt Leah’s has run a small Retail Training Program out of one of our tree lot locations. We have trained at least 35+ youth and young moms over the past few years. My favourite success stories are the two times we have been able to hire a returning training youth from a previous year as paid contractors. Watching both of these individuals become part of the tree lot team was priceless. They took such great pride in the fact that they were Tree Lot Assistants.

You sell a number of different types of trees. Which kind of tree is your favourite and why?

When I had a favourite it was the Fraser Fir because of its two colours, strong branches and great needle retention but now that I have had every tree in my home for Christmas… I love them all for different reasons.

Do you have favourite holiday tradition?

Yes, to “sit down” and relax with my family after a long tree lot season.

This is the 2nd year that Aunt Leah’s has operated at The Brewery District. What is your favourite thing about being located at The Brewery District?

All the new people from the neighbourhood that come by just stop in to say hi and check us out.


About Angelina: Angelina Oates is the Director of Aunt Leah’s Trees. Over the past 7 years, Angelina has helped Aunt Leah’s Trees grow into one of the largest charity tree lots in Canada, grossing over $475,000 in 2016. Angelina also helps organize Aunt Leah’s pre-employment training programs, which helps give youth in care the skills they need to obtain employment and transition to independent living. The Burnaby tree lot is the site of Aunt Leah’s annual Retail Training program.