Firewood, fundraising, and goat food? Christmas tree disposal gets creative

  • Scouts BSA for Girls Troop 5500 scout Carina Lemire, 15, of Northampton trims the trunk of a tree sold at the scouts’ Christmas tree lot in Kendrick Park in Amherst on Dec. 6, 2019. Scout Master Gwen Bracker, left, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, said the group was chartered in November in Amherst but welcomes girls from nearby towns as well. The troop is taking turns operating the tree stand with Amherst-Pelham Boy Scout Troop 500 which has run the sale for many years. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 12/31/2019 2:01:00 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Once again, the city is offering free Christmas tree disposal for residents. And for the second year in a row, the Parent Teacher Organization at RK Finn Ryan Road School is raising money by offering to transport trees to the disposal site.

“It’s part of our overall approach to re-use and recycling,” said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.

The Department of Public Works will be collecting Christmas trees on Jan. 4 and Jan. 11 right front parking lot at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School and chopping them up into mulch onsite. This will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on both days.

The only requirement to drop off a tree is being a Northampton, Florence or Leeds resident. Trees must have all ornamentation removed in order to be accepted, and artificial trees will not be taken.

“I’ve brought my trees there in the past,” said the mayor.

The DPW will use some of this Christmas tree mulch on its own projects. There will also be a mulch pile at the Locust Street Transfer Station, and those with stickers for the transfer station will be able to pick up mulch from it for free.

The PTO at Ryan Road Elementary School is offering to pick up Christmas trees on Jan. 4 to transport them to the disposal site in exchange for donations. The fundraiser is the brainchild of Amy Sidoti, who has two children at the school.

“My dad did this for our church in the town that I grew up in,” Sidoti said. “And he did great with it.”

Last year was the first time the PTO held the Christmas tree collection fundraiser, and about 40 trees were collected.

“We raised about $800,” said Sidoti, “which was pretty great.”

Sidoti said that there is no suggested donation and that she likes that the fundraiser is also a service for residents. 

The money raised last year went to fund the school’s new sign, while the PTO is raising money for accessible playground equipment this year.

Those who wish to take advantage of the service should email or leave a message at 413-341-6981 with their name, address and phone number.

After that, they can leave an ornamentation-free tree out in front of their house on the morning of Jan. 4, with an envelope with their donation attached to it, and the tree will be picked up.

So far, 50 people have signed up for the collection; three motorized vehicles and one bike with a trailer are set to do the pickups.

Hilltown pickups

The Williamsburg Fire Department is also holding a Christmas tree collection fundraiser, with all proceeds going to benefit the department. Those interested can call the department at 413-268-4008 to arrange for a pickup time. A minimum donation of $5 is required for a pickup, and times will be on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Residents of both Williamsburg and surrounding towns can have their trees picked up.

“We have a lot of repeat people who do it,” said Shawna Rogers, coordinator of the department’s Student Awareness of Fire Education program.

Last year, the department raised nearly $500 with the fundraiser.

In the past, Williamsburg has hosted a big, townwide burning of collected Christmas trees that’s open to the public. This year, the department is looking to donate most of the trees, and a local goat farm has already signed up to be one of the recipients.

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