Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Feb. 18, 2020

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Volunteers dig right in on Make a Difference Day

Willing hands plant trees and handle plenty of other tasks

By , Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Vancouver city employee Tony Collins helps Lukas Young, 4, remove a sapling from its pot during a tree-planting in Vancouver on Saturday. The event, coordinated by the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance, was among several in the area that coincided with national Make a Difference Day. (Molly J. Smith for The Columbian)
Vancouver city employee Tony Collins helps Lukas Young, 4, remove a sapling from its pot during a tree-planting in Vancouver on Saturday. The event, coordinated by the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance, was among several in the area that coincided with national Make a Difference Day. (Molly J. Smith for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Sam Lanz and Jamie Butler are professionals when it comes to restoration work. Both help with such projects in their day jobs — Lanz with the Washington Conservation Corps, Butler with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

On Saturday, the two Woodland residents played the role of volunteers with dozens of others planting trees along the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail in Vancouver. Both were happy to devote a day off to the project, coordinated by the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance.

“I like being outside. I like planting,” said Butler. She also enjoys the company of other volunteers on such outings.

The planting was one of numerous events around the area Saturday that coincided with national Make a Difference Day. The celebration, now in its 24th year, encourages people to take part in community service and improve the lives of others. Millions of volunteers were expected to participate across the nation.

The Vancouver Watersheds Alliance has organized a tree planting as part of the service day for several years, said Executive Director Sunrise O’Mahoney. The project typically draws between 100 to 200 participants, and Saturday’s crowd appeared to fall within that range.

The event intended to plant about 5,000 trees at various sites along the trail near Leverich Park. For many, the outing would be a new experience, O’Mahoney said.

“A lot of people have never planted a tree,” she said. “People feel really good after they’ve been outside.”

On witnessing the fulfillment of others, she added, “it’s inspiring to see.”

The group gathered under the shelter in Leverich Park before breaking into groups and walking to different sites where young trees and mulch were waiting. O’Mahoney and others directed traffic and outlined plans for the day.

Tim Esary, a public works supervisor with the city of Vancouver, noted that his crews will continue to take care of the plants after the volunteers went home.

“Generations to come are going to be able to benefit from these events,” Esary said.

Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter
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