The helping hands of Trees for Tots

April 16, 2018

TFT Logo


Trees for Tots, our annual Christmas tree pick-up event, started in December 2012, when the Christmas tree pick-up program run by the city ended. The Children’s Foundation saw an opportunity to take on the program as a donation-for-service event.

“That first year was a bit overwhelming,” says Glenna Banda, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “We didn’t have the technology to figure out the routes. We didn’t know what to do with the trees once we picked them up. People stepped up and we worked it out along the way. It was incredible.”

Jamie Noland with crew

Jamie Noland, of Jamie’s Lawncare, with crew. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography


With the strength of community support that first year and the six years since, Trees for Tots has grown into a great success and a community favourite, seeing volunteers come out as families, year after year. The 2018 event raised over $55,000, picking-up and chipping over 3,200 trees in the City of Guelph. In addition to the 200 volunteers who come out, the event is supported by vital industry partners who provide the necessary skills, machinery and overall logistics support to make this event possible and contribute to its great success.

Jackie Ooms TFT crew

Board member Jackie Ooms with her crew of tree picker-upers. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

Four of these key partners make up the Trees for Tots Logistics Committee along with volunteer Michael Douglas and work closely with Children’s Foundation Events Manager Kasia Rusiniak to plan and implement this mammoth event.

Jamie Noland and Joe Legate, owner operators of Jamie’s Lawncare and JL’s Tree Service respectively, sit on the Logistics Committee and are vital to planning the event as well as securing chipper operators for the day. The crews arrive on site to start setting up stations as early as 7 am to be ready for the thousands of trees to be processed. Corey Stone of Hersey Bins generously donates up to 20 bins for the six chipping stations, ensuring each station has the bin capacity needed for the calculated cubic yards of Christmas trees scheduled to arrive – it’s a fine science! Craig Chamberlain, Property Manager at Ignatius Jesuit Centre, helps manage logistics at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre chipping station and receives the 240 cubic yards of mulch delivered for use on hiking trails, in gardens and playgrounds, as well as some whole trees used for fish rehabilitation projects in the property’s streams.

Joe Legate chipping

Joe Legate of JL’s Tree Service feeding a chipper. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

Chippers for the day are donated by Battlefield Equipment Rentals, Phil Guenter of Baum Professional Tree Care, who was new to Trees for Tots this year and also provided crew for the day as well as coming out to chip trees himself, Cooper Equipment Rentals, Kyle MacDonald of the Davey Tree Expert Company, who also provided helping hands for the day, JL’s Tree Service, Universal Rental Services, Premier Equipment and Sloot Construction Ltd.

Phil Guenter frosty stache

Phil Guenter, of Baum Professional Tree Care, sports a frosty facial. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

The careful orchestration of moving chippers into place happens with the expert planning of Michael Douglas and courtesy of Bob’s Towing & Recovery, making light work of manoeuvering tons of machinery. Fred E. Prior & Sons Ltd. has been a strong supporter of the event for years and this year, along with ADV Equipment Services, provided warm and dry storage for the chippers the night before the event, ensuring a smooth start and functioning machines throughout the day.

Valet Car Wash on Gordon generously donates vouchers to help volunteers spray out pine needles from truck beds and wash off salt and sludge. For those that do not have their own tree-collecting vehicles, DOZR donates rental trucks – many hands make lighter work with over 3,200 trees on the list! Of course, that list would not exist without the support of the City of Guelph’s IT Department who takes all of the registered addresses and plots them into colour-coded pick-up routes, each assigned to one of the six chipping stations. This year, with the exception of Ignatius Jesuit Centre, all of the chipping stations were charitably hosted on Wellington Catholic District School Board properties.

TFT Volunteers chipping

Volunteers staging trees for chipping at the St. Francis of Assisi station. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

Laidlaw Carriers Van LP, a long-time supporter of the Children’s Foundation Adopt-A-Family Program, supplied safety vests and glasses to help keep volunteers safe on site, while local Tim Horton’s stores, Zoup! in Campus Estates Plaza and Mike’s food truck helped keep volunteers warm and nourished – which was a particular concern this January as the event took place during record low temperatures and a high wind chill factor, prompting a cold weather advisory from Environment Canada. Nonetheless, volunteers turned out in droves to lend a helping hand, bundled warm against the elements and with warmth in their hearts to help those in need.

Glenna with bundled volunteer

Executive Director Glenna Banda with a bundled-up Stacy Cooper volunteering in record-low temperatures. Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

Of course, there would be no trees to pick-up without spreading the word! With the help of DP2 Design & Photography designing a colourful logo and sharp event graphics, M&T Printing Group donating tree tags, TrilliumWest Real Estate Brockerage producing social media videos and the Guelph Fire Department and John Ireton of Impact Mobile Signs sharing registration information throughout the City, we reach thousands of City residents to sign-up for Christmas tree pick-up.

What a list of community support! We are so fortunate and grateful to be part of such a supportive community that truly comes together, each bringing a specific skillset and resources to help an absolutely incredible thing happen. Now you see what we mean when we say: we couldn’t do it without you!!


TFT Volunteer group

Some of the staff and volunteers who run "Command Central." Photo by DP2 Design & Photography

Click here to see complete photos from Trees for Tots 2018 and all the helping hands that came out to make this incredible event happen.