'Treecycle' yields fresh scent, gifts
Dave Perry/The Explorer, Town of Oro Valley employee Daniel Gonzales prepared to run a Christmas tree through the chipper at Naranja Town Site last week. Gonzales and Tony Sances chipped hundreds of Christmas trees, creating mounds of fragrant mulch, back, while members of Kiwanis of Oro Valley assisted donors and gathered contributions for programs that assist needy children.

Naranja Town Site smelled a lot like Christmas last week, when Town of Oro Valley public works department employees chipped hundreds of holiday conifers into mulch.

Daniel Gonzales and Tony Sances ground discarded trees into five-foot piles of sweetly scented material for use by local gardeners. This is the first time in recent years Oro Valley has chipped its own trees; previously, all the chipping was done at Rillito Raceway. Gonzales and Sances spent 2-1/2 work days pushing Christmas trees into the powerful machine that throws chips out a spout and onto piles of fragrant green.

While they chipped, Kiwanian Jerry Simmons helped a resident unload her Christmas tree. The Kiwanis Club of Oro Valley uses the "treecycle" event as a fund-raiser, accepting donations for its KIN Foundation, which helps provide clothing and other items for children in need.

Donations often come in small denominations, $1 or $5 bills. "One guy gave me a check for $50," said Simmons, a retired educator. On a busy Sunday after Christmas, Kiwanis members collected $880.

Kiwanis uses the money twice a year — before the start of school, and before Christmas — to take 60 or more children shopping for school clothes and other goods. In the past, Kiwanis has provided breakfast, haircuts, backpacks, handmade quilts, Christmas stockings and school supplies to needy children. It has a number of business and non-profit partners.

Simmons stood on a large dirt patch sprinkled with smatterings of pine and spruce needles. Before the chipping, the patch – about the size of a basketball court – "was full" of discarded trees, he said.

Donations to Kiwanis may be made to The KIN Foundation, care of Christina Granillo, 6417 East Grant Road, Tucson, 85715. Donations are tax-deductible.

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