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Around thirty volunteers from the WeLoveU Foundation in Central Florida partnered with Keep Alachua County Beautiful for a  tree planting project in Gainesville, Florida on Sunday, August 19, 2018.

Planting trees reduce air pollution by filtering dust and pollutants from the air we breathe. Additionally, volunteers are planting trees to develop Greater Duval Neighborhood Association Community Garden. The garden was founded for local citizens to take advantage of the natural resources grown within.

WeLoveU volunteers traveled from numerous towns and cities in Florida. They traveled from Leesburg, Orlando, Winter Park, Kissimmee, and Daytona Beach to participate in the tree planting volunteer service.

Despite their long journey, traveling two and a half hours, volunteers were excited. For many of them, it was their first time participating in a tree planting project. Before hitting the ground, all the volunteers gathered for an opening picture in their bright blue WeLoveU polo shirts.

Meeting the Experts

Shirley McNish, Treasurer of the Greater Duval Neighborhood Association and Coordinator of the Community Garden, also participated. She was working alongside volunteers providing careful instructions. She mentioned that she has been waiting three years to plant this community garden, but not many working hands have been available. She expressed her gladness and thankfulness to the WeLoveU volunteers for joining today to expand the garden.

Andrew Ingram, the Project Coordinator from Keep Alachua County Beautiful, also came and brought tools such as shovels and gloves for the volunteers to carry out the work. The trees were also donated with the help of several organizations in the city of Gainesville.

Planting Trees for Clean Air

After receiving gardening instructions from Shirley, an experienced gardener herself, the volunteers promptly began transporting each tree to its new home. In groups of three, they aligned beside each other and started digging. Mustering all of their strength, they struck the ground with shovels to create a resting place for each tree.

After the holes were deep and wide enough, they planted the trees, filling each trench with water followed by soil. Drops of sweat fell from their suntanned foreheads, but they did not stop until they accomplished their tasks. In only two hours, the volunteers planted 13 saplings; among the trees were apple, plum, pecan, fig, and crepe myrtle trees.

A WeLoveU volunteer from Winter Park said, “This was a really amazing experience to come out here today in Gainesville to actually plant trees. Trees are very necessary for life because we need oxygen that comes from trees for us to live. So this opportunity was amazing for us because we can also beautify this area in Gainesville.”

Around 12:30 p.m., the volunteers wrapped up. Also, Keep Alachua County Beautiful prepared lunch for the group. Afterward, they came together for one last group picture with the coordinators.

Concluding Remarks From the Coordinators

McNish expressed her happiness saying, “To all of the volunteers and WeLoveU, I encourage you all to just keep doing what you are doing. There are many people like the Greater Duval Community who need your help and they are waiting for it. You reached out to me, I did not know anything about you and I am in love with you all. Thank you, I appreciate you all.”

Ingram also shared words with the volunteers saying, “This community garden is a great thing; locals have been asking for it. The WeLoveU Foundation does great work, and this tree planting is just a little sample of what they do. The message they deliver through what they do cannot really get much better than that.  You cannot beat that!”

Responding to their kind words, volunteers chanted “We love you!” and headed back to their respective homes.

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