The Commons’ Christmas tree has been replaced.

“We thought we’d try something new and something different,” senior SALT student leader Emily Weber said. For students, this means out with the Christmas tree and in with a poinsettia display.

SALT, Serving and Learning Together, annually holds a Christmas giving event that usually involves trees in each residence hall, giving students opportunities to buy toys and necessities for Sioux Falls families in need. In the past, SALT also made wreaths for purchase by other students and faculty members. Instead, this winter finds poinsettias replacing both the wreaths and the Commons tree.

The money from wreath sales, and now from poinsettia sales, goes toward purchasing these donated items.

This is the first year for poinsettia sales, and it is therefore the first year the Christmas tree will not be on display in the Commons first-floor walkway.

“After everyone goes home for Christmas break, the tree gets taken down and thrown away,” UBG head governor Patrick Brende said. UBG adviser Jeff Venekamp said the tree only lasted until finals, and it was gone before Christmas.

Venekamp said the Commons tree traditionally cost between $300 and $400. This tree was paid for by student services. The display will still feature a tree this year, but of a different form.

“Student services is buying the poinsettias to make a gigantic Christmas tree out of them,” Weber said. Student services covered the initial purchase costs of the poinsettias. Therefore, all of the proceeds can go directly to Christmas giving, and “all the money from selling will go toward buying gifts for families in need,” Venekamp said.

Nevertheless, students are left without the tree of tradition. Weber does not anticipate disappointment among students at this change.

“I think if the students realize what a win it is for everyone … they’ll be really excited,” Weber said.

The poinsettia tree will be on display in the Commons until students go home for their winter break. At this time, those who purchased a poinsettia can take their potted plant with them as they leave.

Now, the poinsettias have the same “breathtaking effect” as the tree once did, but “the poinsettias will kind of serve a purpose after the students go home,” Brende said. The hope is that these poinsettias will be used not only to decorate the Commons and to support Christmas giving, but to decorate student and faculty homes or serve as gifts themselves.

“If you buy something nice to support the community, that’s a nice gift,” Weber said. “It’s a good way for Augie to come together.”

Poinsettias are for sale from 4-6 p.m. December 14-18 in the Commons by the mailboxes. Students and faculty can also email salt@ole.augie.edu or visit the SALT website at http://www.augie.edu/campuslife/getting-involved/clubs-and-organizations/serving-and-learning-together-salt/poinsettia-sa.