Guelph helps raise $20,854 in Trees for Tots effort

GUELPH — The first ever Trees for Tots program was a roaring success Saturday.

With organizers initially expecting to pick up between 400 and 500 old Christmas trees across the city that day, they ended up collecting roughly 1,700 trees and raised $20,584 for the Children’s Foundation of Guelph-Wellington.

That total included a $5,000 donation from Scotiabank.

“We ended up having 1,500 people sign up for their trees to get picked up (by the Jan. 9 cut-off date), then we had people flagging our drivers down or just leaving their trees by the side of the road with a donation in the mailbox,” said Peter Thurley, development co-ordinator for the Children’s Foundation of Guelph-Wellington.

People left a minimum donation of $5 in their mailbox and their old tree at the roadside, with all proceeds going to the Children’s Foundation of Guelph-Wellington.

Roughly 110 volunteers in trucks picked up the trees and took them to one of three locations in the city where they were put into wood chippers.

Sara Jay of Terry’s Tree Service said she was blown away by the response.

Terry’s was chipping the trees at the Edinburgh Road north location with her husband Terry. The chips are being used in landscaping at the base of trees to help retain moisture and to shore up muddy pathways.

Fred E. Prior and Sons and Battlefield Equipment Rentals also supplied a chipper, while Tim Hortons and the Downtown Business Association supplied refreshments for the volunteers.

In total, there were 39 teams of volunteers scouring the city for trees Saturday.

It was the Downtown Business Association that first suggested the idea in the wake of the city ending its annual pickup of Christmas trees this year.

“I think one of the things it’s meant to me is how our community comes together when it sees the opportunity to help out,” said Thurley, referring to the donations and all the volunteers who chipped in Saturday.

“Because this was a new program, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m overwhelmed.”

Proceeds from the event will go to support the Grants program, which provides financial assistance for children in need so that they can participate in activities.