For tree farmer, volunteering at Boone is an evergreen experience

Volunteer Mary Lou Raitt works in the Boone Hospital gift shop on Tuesday afternoons.

Volunteer Mary Lou Raitt works in the Boone Hospital Center gift shop on Tuesday afternoons.

Almost every Tuesday afternoon, Mary Lou Raitt staffs the Boonique Gifts shop in Boone Hospital’s main lobby.

The exception is Thanksgiving through Christmas, when Raitt is busy at her family’s tree farm.

Each year, the family’s Timberview Tree Farm sells approximately 1,000 trees. They primarily grow Scotch pine trees for cutting. For those who want a living tree, they offer potted white pine trees that can be planted the tree after the holiday — though these are currently in limited supply due to the recent drought. They also import and sell Fraser Firs.

“It’s a busy time, but it’s a happy time,” Mary Lou said of the Christmas season.

The family planted their first trees in 1969 and sold them in 1972. It grew and became a fun family business, something to work on outside of their other jobs — Mary Lou raised three daughters at home and later worked as typesetter, her husband did USDA research at the University of Missouri.

Mary Lou has volunteered at Boone Hospital for 10 years. She loves helping people find the right gift and makes time to talk with the hospital’s visitors.

“I always had in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t mind working in a hospital environment,” she said. “I love it.”

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