Talk about good deeds.
The Saturday morning collection of Westport residents' discarded Christmas trees by Boy Scout Troop 39 was a win-win-win effort, benefitting the town, Scouts and the environment.
The Christmas tree collection, in its third year and coordinated by Assistant Scoutmaster Eric Montgomery, involved 24 boys, 16 parents and several trucks. Together, the picked up more than 460 trees from all over Westport. With military precision, the group worked from maps, address lists, miscellaneous notes and team packets, and set out from the Imperial Avenue parking lot.
Peter Lanni, accompanying his son Chris, said, "This is a great service we provide for Westport. A lot of people don't know what to do with their trees. This helps them out but also helps us fund scouts that need help paying for their activities and to buy gear. And the town benefits in terms of the trees being turned to mulch to be used in its various landscaping projects, versus trees being dumped at the brush center.
"This is the third year Chris and I are doing this and, ironically, I always forget to include our own tree," he said.
Montgomery said the group had ample equipment to get the job done. "We have two commercial chippers to grind the trees and six teams of us each with a truck, driver and navigator," he said. "The trucks include two Penske moving vans and two large Pony Express trucks."
Tom Kowalski, who operates Westport-based Kowalski Brothers Construction, donated use of another large truck to help with pickups. "My kids went through scouting," he said. "Eric just came in one day to ask if we could help. It's hard often for Scouts to raise funds. This is a good program and teaches good values. It's just one day of my time, for a good cause."
Each tree-collection crew was accompanied by a "chase car" driven by a Scout parent. The cars carried the Scouts assigned to pick up tree disposal fees -- $16 was the charge -- and load the trees.
"The boys get community service credits that go toward their badges," said Montgomery.
"It's definitely a project," he added of the planning and work needed to pull off the tree collection. "While the registration is online, mapping is a chore -- putting 460 pick-ups into an efficient routing system. The biggest risk factor is a snowstorm day of or the day before. We've been lucky -- three for three. Despite a little drizzle this morning, the temperatures will be in the 50s."
Montgomery said his volunteers are a big part of the effort's success.
"We've got a very good core group of parents who help with this and other events throughout the year, including outdoor camping," he said. "And the kids love being in the troop. Several have just become Eagle Scouts. They learn great life skills, from knot tying to outdoor survival skills."