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Hope Helps Optimism Help Youth

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Every tree Craig Owsley lifted from the semi trucks parked in the Dairy Queen lot on Riverside Drive helped the Optimist Club help others.

The Optimist Club's annual Christmas Tree sale kicks off on Black Friday, and on Sunday, volunteers gathered to help set up the makeshift evergreen forest.

"All the proceeds will go to youth organizations in Johnson County," said Optimist Club president Scott Jamison.

Owlsey works six days a week, but came out to volunteer on his day off.

"I've been a resident here for 20 years, and it's good to know that something's going back to the town," he said.

But Owsley has a bigger reason to give back: he lives at Hope House, serving time after a probation violation from an Operating While Intoxicated charge. The program requires every resident to do community service.

"It puts them in a positive setting, you know? Yeah, they've done something wrong, but they're going back into the community once they're done at our facility," said community service work crew leader Clarence Borck.

And the service helps their transition back into mainstream life, he said.

"It helps us out and kind of help them learn, hopefully, some life skills and get some things turned around, too," said Jamison.

Once they're back in the community, many former residents choose to keep up their community service, because they enjoy the work.

Owsley is on track to get out of Hope House in just a few weeks, and is already thinking about next year.

"Knowing what it does now, if someone comes to me next year and says, 'Hey, we need help doing this,' I'd be glad to help," he said.

The sale typically makes around $20,000 and the Optimist Club funnels it all to youth organizations in Johnson County.

People can start buying trees on Black Friday. Prices start at $25.
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