Planting the seed to a greener community

Members of Circle K got a little dirty over the weekend planting a tree in Van Nuys.

Their activity was a part of a larger event known as Earth Day LA, where volunteers showed up to the Van Nuys Recreation Center to help plant trees around the area.

Club President James Cortes said that the event is in collaboration with the environmentalist group Tree People, and that the goal was to plant at least 165 trees.

“This is a way to give back to the community,” Cortes said. “Especially since it’s the spring, we wanted to do a nature-type event.”

The club picked a spot on Van Nuys Blvd. and Hatteras St. to plant their tree.

“I’ve never planted [a tree] before, and I’ve always wanted to,” member Sandra Godina said.

With a little effort and strength, members Manny Francisco and Heri Guzman extracted a young sapling from its bucket and it placed it in a pre-dug hole. The remaining members then took turns shoveling the dirt and filling up the hole.

After they finished planting the tree, the club members walked around asking volunteers and city workers if they needed help planting any more trees.

One worker told them that most of the trees had already been planted, but volunteers were needed to help shovel mulch into buckets.

The club members then walked down Van Nuys Blvd. until coming across a large pile of mulch, along with a few plastic buckets and shovels. Working as a team, they shoveled the mulch into the buckets and helped load them onto a truck.

“I wasn’t expecting to [shovel mulch],” Susana Cortez said. “But honestly, I don’t mind it. I mean, we could have been more prepared by bringing gloves, but it’s not that big of a deal.”

“I thought it would just be planting trees,” member Mariel Neri said. “But now I’m learning that there’s so much more to the process, which makes me respect it more.”

After the buckets of mulch were picked up, the club decided to head back to the Van Nuys Recreation center.

“We only got to plant one tree, and we wanted to plant a lot more,” James Cortes said. “I think that they weren’t expecting this many people [to show up], so there wasn’t a whole lot of work to do.”

According to ABC 7 news, over 400 people showed up to Saturday’s event, with 182 trees being planted.

Cortez said that even though the large turnout of volunteers meant less work for their club, she was glad that so many people from around LA showed up to plant trees.

“[This event] shows how different communities come together to help out,” Cortez said. “Take us for example. We don’t all live here [in Van Nuys], but we’re all here to help out.”

Despite only being able to plant one tree, the club members were proud of what they had accomplished.

“It’s a small act, but a small act can make a big difference in the future,” member Manny Francisco said.