A Tree Grows in Queens

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Melanie Betancourt

Queens residents can take a deep breath of fresh air come Saturday, when thousands of new trees will be planted in the borough.

Put Down Roots, a three-part, community-based program done in conjunction with JetBlue Airways and aimed at encouraging New York City’s 836,000 homeowners to plant trees in their front and backyards, has offered up to two trees each to nearly 20,000 homeowners in the St. Albans and Jamaica neighborhoods in Queens to be planted on their property.

The program is a part of an effort to help MillionTreesNYC, one of the city’s initiatives to plant one million trees across the five boroughs by 2017.

“What’s important about this is that to reach the city’s million tree goal, 300,000 trees have to be planted by private property owners,” said Darin Johnson from New York Restoration Project, one of the organizations behind the MillionTreesNYC campaign. 

To achieve this goal the program canvassed door-to-door and participated in direct mail and advertising efforts in March to invite homeowners to order trees online.  JetBlue Airways employees, community volunteers and New York Restoration Project staff will go to the participating homes to plant the first round of trees on their property.

Homeowners will then be given information on how to care for the tree, and its benefits.

“As New York’s hometown airline, thousands of New Yorkers jet with JetBlue every day to destinations far and wide, but right here in our home borough of Queens there is so much we can do to make environmental initiatives a priority,” said Icema Gibbs, director corporate social responsibility, JetBlue Airways.

The MillionTreesNYC initiative also seeks to raise awareness of the environmental benefits trees have for the city’s residents. Some of which include shading home during the hot summer months, protecting the city’s waterways from pollutants, cooling playgrounds and sidewalks, encouraging outdoor play and exercise, reducing storm water and fighting global warming. 

The day-long festivities will take place rain or shine and will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, in Jamaica, Queens. The day will be filled with giveaways, complimentary lunch and family-fun activities.

Volunteers can register at www.jetblue.com/trees.

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