All the discarded trees will be transported to Eustis and recycled into canes for veterans.
It’s always a sad sight to see all those used Christmas trees thrown out on curbs after the holiday season, but one man in Eustis is doing his part to give some trees a new purpose.
Since 2015, Eustis resident Oscar De Vere Morris has been using his carpentry skills to recycle the tree trunks of discarded Christmas trees into free artisanal canes for veterans. Last year, De Vere Morris, who is a U.S Navy Veteran, made 500 personalized canes for veterans.
And this year De Vere Morris is receiving a little more assistance from the West Orange community to continue his efforts to help veterans.
Matthew’s Hope, a faith-based homeless outreach ministry, is using its 9th Street Outreach Center at 740 Ninth Street as a drop-off location for anyone wishing to donate their Christmas trees. The organizations will be accepting donated trees until Monday, Jan. 14, said Matthew’s Hope Business Manager Sharlene Dewitz.
“The man in Eustis does this every year,” Dewitz said. “He collects them, strips them of their branches and then he makes canes for veterans. And he does it for free.
“But this is just our first year doing this. We got involved this year because I saw someone in the (Winter Garden Rants, Raves, and Reviews) Facebook group was looking for a place to have people drop off Christmas trees, and then a little later, I noticed that the same person was unable to secure a location to be used for a drop. So I got it approved here at Matthew’s Hope because it’s a great cause, and it’s important to work together with people in the community.”
Wayne Nichols, a fireman who works for the city of Clermont, is the volunteer collecting and transporting the Christmas trees to Eustis. Before Matthew’s Hope offered to serve as a drop-off site, Nichols was going door-to-door to collect the trees on his days off.
So far, Nichols has made three trips to Eustis since he started collecting nearly two weeks ago and he estimates he’s brought about 75 to 80 trees to De Vere Morris, he said.
“My goal was to do as much as I could for someone who’s doing far much more than I am,” Nichols said. “I’m in the landscaping industry, so I have the means to haul a significant amount of trees compared to the average person. So I’m just doing whatever I can to get as many trees to him. I don’t like sitting idle, so I’d rather be productive and actually make a difference.”