Here's recent evidence the honor system is alive and well in Chatham, courtesy of the Jaycees annual Christmas tree sale:
The volunteer organizer of the sale did some quick arithmetic the day after Christmas and realized four Christmas trees "disappeared" since the Jaycees lot closed for the season Dec. 23.
But when the volunteer, Bill Heap, went into the trailer at the lot, he found donations left behind by "honest people" who took the trees.
Heap, the Jaycees director, shared the story at the last Borough Council meeting in announcing "another successful tree sale." He said he's still trying to find another civic-minded group interested in taking over the sale.
Heap has expressed concern that this year’s sale may be the Jaycees’ last because of issues finding adult volunteers.
"My twin daughters were on the last shift on the 23rd, and they sold five trees that night and there were 14 left when they took off," Heap said. "I came back the day after Christmas and four of those trees had disappeared. But, thanks to honest people, there were donations shoved under the door of the trailer."
Heap said the sale is a community event, and thanked the sale's customers, and "everyone in town who has cooperated and helped us out."
The Jaycees have held the sale at Main Street and Brooklake Road each holiday season for the past 46 years.
Some of the proceeds from the tree sale have gone to Chatham Borough, with the donations earmarked for Chatham’s Shade Tree Commission. The Jaycees donated $2,500 to Chatham Borough each of the last two years.
“We need someone else to run things, to take charge,” Heap has said, adding that if another group steps up in 2014, he would be still be available to help out in some way. “If the sale does go away after this year, it’s not likely to come back."
After Heap thanked the town at the meeting, the mayor thanked Heap.
"And we thank you, Bill," Mayor Bruce Harris said.