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Spreading green cheer
KLB marks Arbor Day with tree giveaway
WEB 0219 Arbor Day
Zakhin Stevens, Shyne Letman, Tai-lyn Crawford and Jacih Golbreath assist Head Start teachers V. Phillips (center) and Teddra Jake (lower right) Friday as they plant a dogwood tree in honor of Arbor day at the Head Start Center in Riceboro. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Trees: They’re the unsung heroes of our world. They give us oxygen and provide us shade. Their blossoms turn to fruits and vegetables that give us sustenance, and their springtime blossoms give us a visual treat.

That’s why Keep Liberty Beautiful gave away about 160 trees Friday and Saturday in observance of Georgia’s Arbor Day, according to Executive Director Sara Swida.

“The interesting thing is that, yes, there is a National Arbor Day in April, but every state designates their own Arbor Day,” she said. “By having a variety of state holidays, each area can plant at the time that is best for its region, which is between December and March for us.”

The group distributed a variety of crepe myrtles, dogwoods, cedars, oaks and green ash trees that are between 2-3 years old and 4- to 6-feet tall with help from many community organizations, such as Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Forestry Commission, Brewer’s Tree Farm, Farmers Natural Foods and Liberty County Public Works.

“We very much recognize that the more mature a tree is, the more likely it will survive,” Swida said about the benefits of giving a tree rather than seedlings. “It’s a bit easier to maintain because it’s already got a root system — those trees are not only going to bloom earlier; they’ll develop their leaves earlier, so (recipients will) get some instant gratification rather than waiting two to three years to see it.”

The trees were distributed at the quarterly Recycle It! fair at the Liberty County Health Department on Saturday and at Farmer’s Natural Foods on Friday morning.

Swida said the trees would retail between $15 and $20 each, and they provide a variety to meet different community requests. She added that each type is selected for its compatibility with the area, and the trees come with guides for planting and maintenance.

Head Start Family Service Worker Tacarra Hayes said that Keep Liberty Beautiful donates a dogwood tree for the facility each year, and students helped plant this year’s tree as well as some flowers to surround it.

At Liberty County Head Start in Riceboro, teachers used the day as a hands-on teaching opportunity for their 3-, 4- and 5-year-old students.

“It’s teaching them about the environment and the importance of keeping the environment healthy, because trees do a lot for us,” Head Start Family Service Worker Tacarra Hayes said. “It’s also something they can do that’s hands-on, it’s not just ABCs and 123s.”

Hayes said she hopes the lesson will instill the children with an appreciation for the environment and knowledge on how to help trees grow.

Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas also signed a proclamation on Monday declaring Friday as Arbor Day, with members of the Morning Glory Garden Club on hand to mark the occasion. The club also planted its tree Friday afternoon.

Swida said the event is important because it provokes discussion on the importance of trees and gives people a chance to take action.

“They’re not only attractive, but they cool our environment for us, … another advantage is the trees really help prevent soil erosion, which reduces some of our wastewater issues,” she said. “They also absorb carbon dioxide, which we don’t need, and produce oxygen — they provide a lot for us, and certainly, anything we can do to replenish our trees and our forests … it helps us.”

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