Trees find new homes in Whitestone yards

By Alex Robinson

Free trees are growing in Whitestone.

The Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association teamed up with Girl Scout Troop 4551 and the New York Restoration Project to give out 85 trees to Whitestone residents Sunday afternoon.

“For our first year, it was a huge success,” said Devon O’Connor, president of Welcome to Whitestone. “It was a rough winter. Trees were coming down all over the place. The fact that spring started a couple days ago makes people excited.”

O’Connor has been involved with tree giveaways in previous years, but this is the first time his civic association has been an active partner in the initiative.

“It’s a great idea. The area needs more trees,” said Lillian Costa, a Whitestone resident who came to pick up a tree to plant in her backyard.

Residents could register online to reserve a tree for the first hour of the giveaway. After that, the trees were given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Whitestone’s tree planters could choose from four different types to take home Persian Ironwood, American Persimmon, Atlantic White Cedar and Serviceberry.

The give-away was part of Million Trees NYC, a public-private initiative to plant 1 million trees in the city’s streets, parks and backyards.

“We’re doing our part to reach the 1 million tree goal,” said Jamie Feinstein, director of construction management for the New York Restoration Project run by actress Bette Midler.

Over the last couple seasons, NYRP has been active in giving out trees in areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, such as the Rockaways.

NYRP is holding 30 different tree giveaways across the borough until May and each event will have a diverse group of different trees to offer.

The next two giveaways in Queens will be March 29 at Redeemer Lutheran Church, at 92-10 217th St. in Queens Village, and March 30 at Beach 116 Street Partnership, at 264 Beach 116th St. in Belle Harbor.

Both giveaways will run from 10 a.m. until noon and participants can register online in advance to ensure they get a tree.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.