Havelock Junior Legion hauling Christmas tress as fundraiser

The Havelock Junior Legion baseball team wants to haul away your old Christmas tree for a modest donation.

This is the fourth year that the team has raised money by asking for $10 donations from residents in exchange for picking up and disposing of their Christmas trees at Fort Macon State Park, where they will be used for dune stabilization.

Matt James, coach for the team, said he ran across the idea when he was researching out-of-the-box fundraising options.

“I just thought it would work here because we are so close to the beach, and growing up at the beach I knew about the Fort Macon Christmas tree stabilization projects and just thought I would tie that in and do a service for the residents and also provide a service for the community and get as many trees to the beach as I could so that they could build those dunes,” said James.

James said the team offers an alternative to disposing of the trees that helps the environment while taking the burden off residents.

“People have different options with their Christmas trees,” he said. “They can take it out back and burn it in their wood pit. They can haul it to the beach themselves.”

James and parent volunteers coordinate to pick up the trees. Team members have focused on passing out flyers.

“Their role is to get the word out,” said James.

Park Ranger Paul Terry, of Fort Macon State Park, said the program to collect used Christmas trees has gone on since the middle 1960s. The trees protect the dunes, reduce the impact of people and the weather on the dune system, and also encourage formation of habitat for nesting birds, he said.

“The trees act like a sand fence basically,” said Terry. “They’ve got all the branches and twigs and needles stuck out on it. Every one of those locations is a good spot to stop or slow down a grain of sand enough to where the wind can’t carry it anymore and it just naturally accumulates at the base. If you’ve got it out here in the open where there is a lot of wind, you can place a tree and a week and a half to two weeks later it’s got so much sand on it on the base that you can’t pull it up with your bare hands anymore, so it works very well and very quickly.”

Last year, the park received about 1,500 trees.

“It lets us recycle the Christmas trees and keep them out of landfills where they are not doing anything,” Terry said.

James said the trees need to be picked clean of ornaments and tinsel before they can be picked up and donated.

“Make sure you do a really good job of pulling that off because we don’t want that blowing around in the dunes or blowing out to sea to disturb the wildlife,” said Terry.

Especially large trees can be cut in half if necessary.

James and his crew are scheduled to pick up trees on Saturday. Anyone interested in having a tree picked up and making a donation to the baseball program can call James at 412-5063 or Chase Holloman at 665-0599 to schedule a pickup. Donors should have trees out front of their houses by 8 a.m. in the morning for pickup. James can also be contacted by going online to mcjames18@hotmail.com.