By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer
On a cloudless 80-degree winter day in December, more than 75 Enterprise Rent-A-Car employees joined forces with the Arbor Day Foundation and the Delray Beach-based Community Greening organization to plant 150 trees at the K-12 Village Academy School in Delray Beach.
The event is part of a program, called the Enterprise Urban Initiative, which invests in cities, which have been devastated by natural disasters, through tree distribution and neighborhood planting events.
“It’s great to see corporations taking part in their social and corporate responsibilities and understanding the importance of beautifying a school without trees,” said Matt Shipley, co-founder along with Mark Cassini of Community Greening, an organization which creates and maintains green spaces and educates the public about the importance of trees.
Shipley was there with his mother, Karen, and sister, Stephanie.
The school lost trees to Hurricane Irma in 2017 and previous storms and has one of the lowest tree canopies in the city.
Jill Trout, group HR manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in South Florida, who was down in the trenches planting trees herself, said, “We support the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners in their efforts to build strong communities from the ground up and create a sustainable and inclusive future for all.”
“It’s our way of giving back,” she added.
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation has pledged $2 million over the next two years to fund 40 community tree planting events across the country. Additionally, in conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation, they have committed to plant 50 million trees in the U.S. and abroad as part of the 50 Million Tree Pledge.
The new trees at the Village Academy include South Florida slash pines, live oak, paradise trees, red maples, buttonwood and holly, all native to Palm Beach County.
Village Academy ESL teacher Joanne Drew was working with students Stephanie Augstin, 17, and her cousin, Mia Augstin, 10.
The three were digging holes and pulling the trees from their pots and trans-planting them into the ground. Despite some bites from red ants, the group was carrying on.
“The trees will provide shade and reduce environmental pollutants,” Drew said. “Plus, they will beautify the school yard.”
“We can look back and remember when these trees were planted,” Stephanie Augstin said. “We get to watch them grow.”
Last summer, Community Greening planted 100 trees behind SD Spady Elementary School and planted mango and other fruit trees at the Catherine Strong Park last Arbor Day.
Visit communitygreening.org for more information.