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Denton’s 20th Annual Community Tree Give-Away is keeping Denton beautiful

Denton’s 20th Annual Community Tree Give-Away is keeping Denton beautiful

Denton’s 20th Annual Community Tree Give-Away is keeping Denton beautiful
November 01
01:08 2018

The City of Denton Landfill was packed with Denton residents, with long lines formed around the waste facilities as patrons waited for clearance from workers in neon vests. However, these residents were not waiting to drop off anything — they were waiting, to pick up one of several hundred trees. 

“This is our 20th anniversary and our staff is amazing,” said Ali Silva, board president of Keep Denton Beautiful. “We have three staff members and they put so much planning and effort into making this a reality and we had a record sellout. You obviously can’t really sell out of free things, but a record sellout in less than 24 hours — that’s something like 700 trees that we have sold out of. It’s pretty exciting.”

While the Annual Community Tree Give-Away is only for private citizens who are residents of Denton, Keep Denton Beautiful has other tree initiatives for local businesses and several other tree-related events, such as the Denton Redbud Festival, an Arbor Day celebration. The group has been promoting tree-friendly events and programs in the community locals have enjoyed over the years. 

“I really like the tree giveaway,” said Julie Anderson, program manager of Keep Denton Beautiful. “It’s neighbors coming together just so they get a tree for their yard. It’s very personalized. I get a tree for my individual house and then my house looks better. I’ve got shade. We are increasing Denton’s urban tree canopy, which has so many benefits: Property values go up, you reduce your energy costs and it just looks nicer. It’s just good for everybody.”

Keep Denton Beautiful also works with the City of Denton on the Denton Tree Initiative, a campaign designed to increase Denton’s tree canopy by giving away trees and providing forestry education. However, Keep Denton Beautiful has been working toward keeping Denton green long before the initiative, which is why Denton has been recognized by Tree City USA for 27 years in a row.

In order to be recognized by Tree City USA, Denton must maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day. Similar to the Bee City USA title Denton holds, this helps to promote the environmental integrity of the city through certain actions carried out throughout the community.

“It’s incredibly important,” Silva said. “It’s been shown that trees reduce crime, trees raise property values and trees have so much more benefit than just giving us oxygen and making it pretty. We know people in Denton love trees and love Denton, and we are here to support that.”

Local volunteer helps out on Keep Denton Beautiful’s Annual Community Tree Give-Away. Slade Meadows

The tree lovers of Denton turned out in masses for the event on Saturday. Waitlisted Denton residents formed a line of cars around the waste management facilities as if Apple was launching a shiny new product.

Nichele Chaney’s car died from idling too long in the waitlist line, but her only concern was missing out on her tree.

“Both my mother and I are very big tree people,” said Chaney, a 28-year-old surgical technician. “I think Texas really doesn’t take a lot of the initiative to plant a lot of trees just in general on the side of the road, neighborhoods — things like that. There’s just grass, and people don’t take the time to plant trees a lot. I think something like this where you can come and get a free tree is really good.”

Chaney received an advertisement for the event with her electric bill and knew she could not miss out on the opportunity. She and her mother plan to return again next year for another tree.

While some might consider it greedy to return year after year to get more free trees, the members of Keep Denton Beautiful love and strongly encourage repeat patronage. 

Current board volunteer Lancine Bentley began working with Keep Denton Beautiful in 1999 as the executive director, which is the same year they began the Annual Community Tree Give-Away.

“This is my favorite of our events,” Bentley said. “People are really cheerful, they come through [and] are excited to get a tree. I talked to a lady earlier and she was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve been here for like the last six years, I get a tree every single year and so all the trees in her yard are from Keep Denton Beautiful.’ That lets me know we are making a difference. When someone can actually say I’ve got five trees in my yard and they all came from this event.”

Bentley now works strictly as a volunteer in the organization, however, she is not alone. More than 70 people volunteered for the Tree-Giveaway, many of whom were local UNT, Texas Woman’s University and high school students.

“We are very thankful for the community who supports us,” Anderson said. “For our volunteers who help us out and for all of our partners from the city to local businesses — we appreciate all of them.”

Keep Denton Beautiful has been doing just that for many years now, but the organization makes it very clear that without the community, volunteers and the love of Denton, they could not continue to operate.

“The only way this organization stays alive, continues to exist and continues to give out free trees is because we are a nonprofit,” Bentley said, “It’s because people who care about Denton and care about the environment can become members [and] can become sponsors, can donate money. It’s the only way we survive. To be able to continue to help the community, it’s sort of cyclical — the community can help us, so we can help the community.”

Featured Image: Local student volunteers lend their hands for the annual Tree-Giveaway at The City of Denton Landfill. The Keep Denton Beautiful organization aimed at giving away free trees to the Denton community. Slade Meadows

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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