Corey Linkel prepares Christmas trees for the Mt. Ararat High School fundraiser at Cosmic Stone and Garden in Topsham. Facebook photo

Embracing the Christmas spirit, Topsham’s Cosmic Stone and Garden will donate proceeds from its annual Christmas tree sales to Mt. Ararat High School seniors who struggled during the pandemic to raise enough money to fund their Project Graduation plans.

“The kids just had such a hard time with COVID-19,” said Donna Linkel, owner of Cosmic Stone and parent to a Mt. Ararat senior. “They missed a lot of school days and couldn’t run fundraisers.”

Having ordered 132 trees this year and selling half of them during Thanksgiving weekend, Linkel expects to sell out by Christmas. She said if all goes well, she should have $4,000 to donate to Mt. Ararat’s senior class.

Project Graduation is a program offered in high schools across the US focused on hosting supervised graduation celebrations and activities.

“We are so incredibly grateful that they were willing to partner with us,” said Allyson Gilber, adviser to the Class of 2023. “They are such an important business in our community. We cannot begin to thank them enough for their support with project grad and the school.”

Gilbert said fundraising was a struggle for “this class in particular” when COVID interrupted their freshman year and forced them into remote learning. She said things didn’t improve their sophomore year when a hybrid schedule was introduced, allowing students just two days of in-person learning a week. Gilbert said it wasn’t until last year, their junior year, that students had a fair chance at fundraising not just for project graduation, but cap and gowns, homecoming and prom.

She said the senior class hopes to raise $10,000-$15,000 and has already raised $7,000 through pie sales, school dances and a 5K, combined with donations from community members and local businesses.

To purchase a tree from Cosmic Stone and Garden call (207) 725-1428. Tree prices range from $36-$82 and range in size from 3-9 feet.

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