By Jessica Lovell
A local charity that saw the city’s cancellation of Christmas tree pickup as a fundraising opportunity is doing better than expected and now it’s on the hunt for more volunteers.
Partnering with Terry’s Tree Removal, the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington expects to bring in at least $5,000 for its grants program by picking up used Christmas trees.
“We crossed the thousand-tree mark over the weekend,” said foundation development co-ordinator Peter Thurley, who has taken on organizing the Trees For Tots program.
The Trees For Tots program asks a minimum $5 per tree donation, and in exchange volunteers will pick up the tree at your home and take it away to be mulched. “The challenge we have now is it’s been very successful to the point that we need to get as many volunteers as we can,” Thurley said. Specifically, the children’s foundation is looking for volunteers with trucks that can haul off the Christmas trees.
“The big thing now is trucks or trailers to be able to go pick up the trees on Saturday,” said Thurley.
About 10 people with trucks have already come forward to help, but it won’t be enough, he said. “I’m going to need at least another 10 to be able to finish it all in one day,” he said.
The organization has not set a limit on how many trees it will pick up. Instead, it set a deadline of Jan. 9 for people to go online – to www.childrensfoundation.org/events/trees-for-tots – to register for pickup. It hopes to be able to handle everybody who signs up by that date.
“I’m optimistic that the community is going to really step up and volunteer,” said Thurley.
To sweeten the deal for volunteers, the Downtown Guelph Business Association has stepped forward to provide lunch, and Innovation Guelph will provide a place where volunteers can warm up over the lunch break, he said.
As far as what kind of volunteers the foundation is looking for, some of those who have stepped forward already are regulars with the organization, while others are brand new, he said.
“We’re not too picky,” said Thurley, noting he’s happy to have you “if you’ve got a pickup truck and you’ve got a desire to help out.”
Interested volunteers are asked to contact Thurley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-826-9551, ext. 27.
Meanwhile, a representative from the city’s Waste Resource Innovation Centre said lineups to drop off waste haven’t really gotten any longer than usual for this time of year, in spite of the cancellation of curbside Christmas tree pickup.
“We haven’t really seen an increase in volume because of the Christmas trees,” said Heather Connell, manager of integrated services with Solid Waste Services.
The time after Christmas is usually busy at the landfill, but hasn’t been busier than usual, she said.
The Christmas trees are collected as yard waste, and although volumes of that kind of waste have gone up this year, Connell could not say how much of it might be Christmas trees or how many trees had been dropped off so far.
“We don’t specifically track that kind of material,” she said.
She also noted that so far, the centre has had no complaints from people about neighbours dumping their trees at the curbside.
According to a December posting on Mayor Karen Farbridge’s blog, just over 6,000 trees were picked up at the curbside last year.
The pickup was cancelled as part of the city’s 2013 budget process.