Thanks to lead sponsors, TD Bank and Toyota, and supporting sponsor, JetBlue, NYRP hosted over 90 tree giveaway events this season--the largest tree giveaway season yet. By partnering with over 75 local organizations, we found homes for 12,000 trees, from March through May. As the country’s largest municipal tree giveaway program, MillionTreesNYC’s giveaways will help the initiative reach its goal of planting and caring for one million new trees by 2015.
Recently, NYRP partnered with Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA), a non-profit dedicated to connecting the Far Rockaway community to the waterfront, to distribute a total of 150 trees.
The tree distributers consisted of several NYRP, RWA staff as well as several high school volunteers from the community. Eulene Workman, a member of the RWA staff, said of the students, “They are very involved in the environment and community, to make it a better place.” Indeed, even as the students distribute trees— Serviceberry, Hackberry, Sweetbay Magnolia, Black Walnut—they passed around a petition to community members to support their proposal for a bike and pedestrian pathway under the nearby elevated track. Already, they have collected two hundred signatures.
The Far Rockaway coastal community experienced the worst of Hurricane Sandy. Community members who came to pick up trees shared similar stories of loss. One man, who arrived with his daughter, says, “We had to chop down a tree because the salt water killed it.” Denean Ferguson, the Vice President of 1010 Precinct Community Council, says “We lost three to the storm.”
On top of the tree giveaways, the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance’s also plans community bike tours, kayaking days, and an annual Earth Day celebration. John Cruz, the program manager, said, “We want to make Rockaway the place [the community] wants it to be.” This summer, the organization will expand their office and open up a community garden kiosk with internet access.
Workman comments on the RWA initiatives and the tree giveaway, “This is how we preserve our environment to keep it working.” As the high school students hand over tree saplings that have the potential to grow up to 30 feet high, it is easy to imagine a better future, with stronger community ties and many beautiful trees.
See more photos of spring 2014 tree giveaways on our Facebook page.