January 3, 2020
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A nonprofit is turning Christmas trees into canes for veterans

Here are three stories about the power of nature to create renewal to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

Christmas trees can have a new life after the holidays are over. Photo via Unsplash/Annie Spratt

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week, how trees of all kinds are bringing people together to create change and help improve the environment. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at info@therenewalproject.com.


An evergreen gift: A suburban Orlando nonprofit and a local woodworker are turning discarded Christmas trees into staffs of support for local veterans. Matthew’s Hope Ministries in Winter Park, Florida, is asking residents to drop off their trees at its facility. Here, local woodworker Oscar De Vere Morris can easily select the ones he needs to carve canes for veterans. Morris, a veteran himself, has been carving these canes for years. He customizes each one with the veteran’s rank, unit, and year of enlistment—all for free. “The meaning of life is spreading love, that’s all it is, it’s spreading love,” Morris told WESH in Orlando. You can see Morris’s work on his Facebook page, Free Canes for Veterans.

Growing tall: The Redwoods of Northern California are some of the tallest and oldest trees on planet earth. But these resilient and mighty trees need a bit of help. Logging in the region has reduced their numbers and slowed their growth, NationSwell reports.That’s why nonprofit Save the Redwoods League has been working since 1915 to help and preserve them. Recently, they’ve collaborated with the National Park Service and California State Parks on the Redwoods Rising initiative. The project aims to restore old logging roads so that second-growth forests can grow as tall and strong as the oldest redwoods. “We have a responsibility to lead by example, to steward this extraordinary forest in a way that it’s part of the solution,” Sam Hodder, President of the Save the Redwoods League told NationSwell. “And begin to turn the corner, and instead of just trying to slow the gradual degradation of this extraordinary natural system, to begin to grow it back.”


Fast fundraising: A group of YouTubers has managed to raise $20 million in just two months for the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 20 million trees in the year 2020. The idea began when YouTuber Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson wanted to celebrate having 20 million subscribers. Fundraising began in earnest on Oct. 25 and donations poured in to “Team Trees” from other YouTubers, tech industry CEOs, and regular people across the world. Planting for the initiative will begin in January 2020. The foundation is hoping to finish planting the 20 million trees across a variety of state and national forests by December 2022, Mashable reports.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.