Edwin Schneider wonders if, in the end, no good deed goes unpunished.

Even during the holidays.

That's because after taking up a position on the New Oxford square 58 years ago to sell fruit to residents and those passing through town, the local Lions Club has watched for several years as complaints about the tractor-trailer they use to sell fruit on the square have begun to trickle in.

But standing in front of the club's "Orange Cart" this week in a coat and earmuffs, Schneider -- who's helped sell citrus there for more than 25 years -- said those rumblings seem to be par for the course. And he's trying not to take them to heart.

"We've heard some of the same complaints year after year," Schneider said, his breath dissolving in a cold wind. "But we're out here anyway because we're trying to raise money for the New Oxford community."

The Lions Club uses the money from the fruit it sells throughout the holiday season to help fund local organizations including the New Oxford Food Pantry, local Boy and Girl Scout troops, and the Hanover-Adams Rehabilitation and Training Center. The club also provides free eye examinations and glasses to locals in need.

And neither members of the Lions Club nor borough officials want to see that stop anytime soon.

"Those guys have been there for 58 years, and there's probably been some complaints for 58 years," said New Oxford Councilman James Zero. "But I'm watching them come in this year and I want to cut this off before it gets any bigger.



Safety and parking

Zero said he's seen complaint letters pile up over the last few Christmas seasons, and said the borough has already received "three or four" letters so far this year. And his fear is if the issue isn't addressed and resolved, that sentiment could continue to grow and land the Lions Club in a formal hearing in front of the borough council.

Most of the complaints have centered on what some residents see as a safety issue, with customers pulling away from the fruit stand and into the already busy traffic circle. There have also been complaints about the six parking spots on the square the Lions Club trailer takes up, Zero said.

"There's gonna be adjustments here, there has to be," he said. "But I don't want to see this in front of borough council. I want to be able to work it out."

Each year the Lions Club sale runs from the Friday after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, with the tractor-trailer that holds oranges, tangerines and other citrus stationed along with a yellow plywood shed in the parking area on the southeastern side of the square. The sale's first weekend is usually its busiest, and the site has become a regular stop for out-of-towners traveling through.

In an average year the Lions Club will sell about 4,000 cases of fruit, and raise from $10,000-$15,000 dollars, Schneider said.

"We don't keep a penny of that," he said. "It all goes back to the community."

The stand is a tradition for many, including Merle and Rosemary Williams, who drove down from Aspers Friday afternoon to buy three cases of fruit for the holidays.

"We've been coming for at least 20 years, because they have really good fruit," Rosemary Willams said, as volunteers loaded grapefruit and tangerines into her car's trunk. "Now we're all stocked-up for winter."

"We get that all the time," Schneider said with a smile, as the car pulled away.

Just 'trying to help'

But amid the yearly bustle of moving cartons and cars, still the complaints continue.

Schneider said he's heard complaints from members of Emory United Methodist Church, which sits directly behind the orange cart along Lincolnway East. Those complaints question the fairness of taking up prime parking spots on the square for weeks at a time, and church members have asked whether that's permitted under the borough's laws.

But Schneider said the Lions Club has their permits, and have tried to work with those who live, work and worship in the area. And he's a little disappointed by the sentiment.

"It's funny to get complaints from a church about this," he said. "We're all Christians out here trying to help people."

Zero said he's not certain how any official proceeding on permits would come out, but admitted that, under borough rules, those complaining may have a case. But he said the church has already volunteered to help with storage issues, if that would alleviate some of the congestion.

And he's confident some sort of compromise can be reached.

Schneider said he's listened to such complaints for years, but has never seen a traffic problem caused by one of the stand's customers.

In fact, with a line of orange cones in place along the circle, and the large storage trailer in plain view to slow down those who enter the circle, likely downtown is even safer during the time the Orange Cart is there, he said.

Regardless of the complaints, Schneider said the Lions Club will continue its tradition, and are hoping to "keep it positive."

Several years ago the club received a series of complaints from a woman who lived nearby, he said. The cart was blocking the view of her Christmas lights.

Not long after that, though, the lady's son needed new glasses, he said. They were eventually paid for through one of the Lions Club's local outreach programs.

There was no condescension or smile on Schneider's face as he finished his story.

"We didn't hear from her anymore after that," he said. "And we were happy to help."


What: New Oxford Lions Club Citrus Sale.

When: Through Dec. 20. Mondays through Thursdays 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Fridays 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sundays 12 p.m.-4 p.m.

Where: New Oxford's square.

Also of interest

· Lincoln Highway's New Oxford, Abbottstown: 'I know I'll be back.'