Cy Ridge students help give trees to Hurricane Harvey victims

April 25, 2018

Cypress Ridge High School senior Juliet Leger helps load an oak tree during a distribution event April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School
Cypress Ridge High School senior Juliet Leger helps load an oak tree during a distribution event April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School set up through a partnership between TXU Energy and Papa John’s to give away 450 trees to families and community members who lost trees and vegetation as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that ensued. Leger and roughly 40 members of the Cypress Ridge Key Club volunteered to help direct traffic and load trees into vehicles.

April 25, 2018—Members of the Cypress Ridge High School Key Club, in addition to other student volunteers, helped distribute 450 trees on April 21 to families and community members who lost trees and vegetation as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that ensued, doing so thanks to a partnership between Papa John’s and TXU Energy.

Cypress Ridge High School Key Club members and other school volunteers joined officials from Papa John’s and TXU Energy to help distribute 450 trees
Cypress Ridge High School Key Club members and other school volunteers joined officials from Papa John’s and TXU Energy to help distribute 450 trees on April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School to families who lost trees and vegetation as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that ensued.

The two companies have partnered since 2015, distributing more than 60,000 trees across Texas with their Earth Day promotion. They wanted to help those impacted by the hurricane and replace lost or damaged trees from the inclement weather and flooding, and chose three zip codes (77084, 77449 and 77041) within CFISD. Working with the Texas Trees Foundation, which itself has partnered with TXU Energy for 15 years and planted more than 600,000 trees across the state, Papa John’s and TXU Energy officials held a distribution from 9 a.m. to noon at Hairgrove Elementary School for area residents in need of replacement trees.

In getting volunteers, roughly 40 Cypress Ridge Key Club members signed up within 48 hours of the initial call. Only 10-12 were initially needed for the three hours.

“I love that they jumped in to do this because it’s benefitting those impacted by Harvey,” said Stephen Green, Cypress Ridge Key Club co-sponsor and Earth and Space Science teacher. “Some of these students actually had their houses flooded as well and they’re here helping for the same cause. That’s what makes me proud of this one.”

Cypress Ridge High School freshman Emily Alfaro loads a tree into a truck during a distribution event April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School.
Cypress Ridge High School freshman Emily Alfaro loads a tree into a truck during a distribution event April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School. Roughly 40 Cypress Ridge student volunteers helped load pine, live oak and crepe myrtle trees.

The giving event is among the many across CFISD since Hurricane Harvey in helping residents and businesses recover.

“Trees are one of those things that in any natural disaster, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado or whatever, once you get all your material possessions back and once the initial need is met, that’s when people realize they lost that tree in their front lawn. The yard is empty,” said Matt Grubisich, Texas Trees Foundation director of operations and urban forestry. “Maybe they planted that tree when their child was born or maybe they planted that tree when they bought the house, but that tree helped shade the house and helped with their air-conditioning costs. But this can be that last piece. I hear that story over and over again.”

Those who registered for the trees were directed to the back of Hairgrove, where students verified their registration before directing each car or truck toward the pickup spot a few hundred feet away. They then chose between pine, live oak or crepe myrtle trees.

: Cypress Ridge High School freshman Vrinda Pandey helps direct an attendant to the tree pickup location April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School. Volunteers from Cypress Ridge directed traffic, verified registration from families picking up trees and loaded the vehicles.
Cypress Ridge High School freshman Vrinda Pandey helps direct an attendant to the tree pickup location April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School. Volunteers from Cypress Ridge directed traffic, verified registration from families picking up trees and loaded the vehicles.

Students worked to load multiple five-gallon trees into the vehicles.

“A lot of these had their homes and their cars destroyed by Harvey,” said Cypress Ridge senior Brandon Kang, the Key Club president. “Some had a chance to rebuild their homes but there are still families out there who haven’t rebuilt fully, these students wanted to give up their time and give up their weekend to help out other families.”

Among the families to pick up trees were Jeff Parker and his daughter McKenzie, who is a first-grade student at Hairgrove. They lost most of their trees and flowers, and have used the time working in their yard since the flooding as an escape of sorts.

Trees, however, are more expensive than flowers and were put on the backburner, Jeff Parker said.

: Cypress Ridge High School freshman Tam Dang (foreground) joins Matt Grubisich, Texas Trees Foundation director of operations and urban forestry, in loading trees into vehicles.
Cypress Ridge High School freshman Tam Dang (foreground) joins Matt Grubisich, Texas Trees Foundation director of operations and urban forestry, in loading trees into vehicles. Roughly 40 Cypress Ridge volunteers joined officials from TXU Energy, Papa John’s and the Texas Trees Foundation in distributing 450 trees on April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School to families who lost trees and vegetation as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that ensued.

The two returned to Hairgrove after getting their trees, dropping off Girl Scout cookies for the volunteers. Parker said they have delivered to police and fire departments or mailed to military personnel overseas in the past, but wanted to give thanks for the trees.

“Trees are a symbol of life and a symbol of something that’s going to be around long after we’re gone,” Grubisich said. “Plus, it’s good for the environment and people understand the value of them around here. If we’re able to help them do that, it’s really great.”

In expanding their partnership that has seen more than 60,000 trees distributed since 2015, TXU Energy and Papa John’s distributed 450 trees on April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School to families who lost or had trees damaged by Hurricane Harvey or flooding
In expanding their partnership that has seen more than 60,000 trees distributed since 2015, TXU Energy and Papa John’s distributed 450 trees on April 21 at Hairgrove Elementary School to families who lost or had trees damaged by Hurricane Harvey or flooding. The business partners chose two zip codes within CFISD and worked with the Texas Trees Foundation. Residents could choose between oak, pine or crepe myrtle trees.

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