Red Deer firefighters are once again answering charity’s call with their Christmas tree pickup service.
From Jan. 6 to 20, fire-medics will be out providing a voluntary pickup service, which also serves as a fundraiser for the Red Deer Firefighters Children’s Charity.
“We rely strictly on the generous donations of Red Deerians to keep this annual campaign alive,” says Dan Henschel, of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1190.
Donations to the children’s charity can be handed to the fire-medic scooping up your tree from your front lawn, or mailed in. A pre-addressed envelope will be left in your mailbox if you’re not home. All donations go towards local children’s charities.
How long firefighters have been picking up Christmas trees remains a bit of a mystery. It is measured in decades though and may go back as far as the 1960s.
“It’s a long time,” said Henschel.
As more people turn to artificial trees, the collection does not make quite the money it used to, but it still pulls in $4,000 to $5,000 for local children’s charities. In the late 1990s, it could raise up to $10,000.
“We mostly still do it for tradition’s sake and it’s a lot of fun. At the same time, with $4,000 to $5,000, you can still do a lot of good in the community with that.”
Henschel said the whole department participates. The city is split into four quadrants and firefighters tackle their area when it suits their schedules. They try to post the day they will do pickups on the firefighters’ Facebook page.
Those leaving their trees out are asked to remove all decorations and tinsel and to not put them in bags. Trees must be left out in front of the home, not in rear alleys.
The pickup is entirely a voluntary effort. Several dozen firefighters donate their time over the two weeks the pickup runs.
Discarded trees are given to the city to be turned into mulch.