Friends of Trees launches program to help overcome one objection to planting trees — raking leaves

By Larry Bingham
Portland, OR (December 2, 2010)- In an effort to “close the loop” on its tree-planting campaign, Friends of Trees on Thursday launched a pilot program to help low-income seniors take care of one thing most trees generate — leaves.



Friends of Trees staffers gathered in Northeast Portland at 9.m. before sending out Home Depot volunteers to rake the yards of 32 homebound seniors served by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fishes & Loaves Center. Brighton West, program director of Friends of Trees, came up with the idea while visiting his sister in Wisconsin and seeing a similar program featured on the TV news there.
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“We want to do this bigger and better next year,” he said. “But we have to figure out how to do it first.” After the director of the non-profit signed off on West’s idea, the tree organization sought volunteers at Home Depot where it hoped to find workers and supplies — rakes, bags, shovels and brooms.
“It’s important for us to volunteer because it shows the community we’re there for them,” said Kayla Norberg, volunteer coordinator for the Jantzen Beach Home Depot. Then came time to find the pilot program’s first recipients. Loaves & Fishes recommended its MLK center, which has one of the organization’s highest percentages of low-income seniors.
“These are people who are pretty frail,” Julie Piper Finley, director of marketing for Loaves & Fishes, told the volunteers. “This is a great feeling for them. They can look out their windows and see people from their neighborhood helping them.” The Portland Bureau of Transportation liked the idea, too, and offered to let the group dispose of the leaves free of charge at Sunderland Recycling Facility.
“We’d like to take this citywide next year,” said Friends of Trees executive director Scott Fogarty. “Part of the concept is to close the loop on what we do … We’re mindful of looking at it holistically.”
Related Resources:
The Oregonian- Friends of Trees launches program to help overcome one objection to planting trees — raking
Friends of Trees, Home Depot Aid Homebound Seniors with Leaf Pickup
Friends of Trees
The Home Depot Foundation