Hauling Christmas trees never feels like work for teams of Boy Scout volunteers.
Truckloads and trailers of trees were aplenty Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, the recycling drop-off site this year for Scout Troops 0479 and 0370, which worked together for its annual Christmas tree recycling pickup.
And despite COVID-19, their mission remains the same, said scout Parker Zaemann, 14. It starts with serving the community.
“I know great benefits will come from it,” he said.
Teams of scouts and volunteers covered various routes in designated neighborhoods in Felida collecting trees. Scouts climbed into the backs of pickup trucks or trailers used to haul trees left on curbs and tossed them into one of three Waste Connections recycling drop boxes, plus a large box truck, at the middle school. It was one of numerous drop-off sites in Clark County.
Brent Zaemann, Scout Troop 0479’s coordinator of the annual event, estimates the troop collects around 800 trees each year, and wouldn’t be surprised to see more than that in 2021.
Ellie Stewart was one of the nearly 30 scouts volunteering Saturday. She joined the scouts two years ago when Boys Scouts of America’s flagship program, Boy Scouts, changed to Scouts BSA in February 2019 — a change meant to welcome both boys and girls between ages 11 and 17.
Her brother also is a longtime scout member, and the long-standing community service projects, such as the Christmas tree pickup, is a highlight of her year.
“I like how we get to clean up for everyone after the holidays,” the 17-year-old said.
Not only is it the Troop’s largest community service event, it’s also a main fundraiser. The curbside pickup service is free, but cash donations help fund troop activities throughout the year and scholarships. An event like Saturday brought a sense of normalcy, scout Aidan Bloom said, in what otherwise has been a not-so-normal time. Scout Troops have primarily met over Zoom since March because of COVID-19. For Stewart, she estimated she hadn’t seen so many faces in-person of people she knows in more than a year.
And seeing faces in-person Saturday meant something extra special, too, for Bloom.
“Having this,” he said, “and being able to get the whole troop out here feels very nice. It’s nice to come out here every year and do this.”