Frank Pichel didn’t expect much when he started selling his odd-looking Christmas trees late last month.
He just wanted to raise money for Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in Richmond’s East End. The faith-based, tuition-free private school caught the eye of Pichel, who is a commercial animator and part-time professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, after he noticed a fundraiser for athletic equipment a couple of years back.
“It’s [going] so well that I think I’ll just make this a thing I’ll do every year and I imagine I’ll keep having them as the charity,” Pichel said.
The small frail-looking pine trees may remind others of the one found in the “Charlie Brown” Christmas movies.
Bigger than the tiny tree portrayed on the holiday special, the trees sold by Pichel stand as short as 5 feet and as tall as 8 feet.
Pichel spent a majority of his Thanksgiving day chopping 70 trees from his Nelson County plot of land, then hauled them to the city. Anna Julia Cooper gave Pichel the green light shortly thereafter and he began sales the following weekend, raking in $1,200 over the first two days.
Pichel’s 66-acre plot in Nelson has a massive surplus of Pinus Virginiana, a pine tree typically found in mountainous regions ranging from Alabama to New York.