JustHelping’s aim is to help Hospices around the country raise money by using their experience with technology & websites etc. to help them organise a Christmas tree collection drive. Although Christmas was fast approaching, Lion Tony made contact with JustHelping to find out what they could offer. Fortunately by giving Just Helping some details including our chosen collection areas, by the time of our annual Rocking Rudolph season commenced we had in place a booking website for residents to request tree collections, professional looking leaflets to distribute & the publicity machine had started. Just Helping had one condition, we must allocate at a proportion of proceeds to our local Hospice….a worthy partner we all agreed!
The Christmas season came on us all too soon. Reassuringly throughout that time, we were able to view bookings registered and paid for on the JustHelping website and as the collection weekend drew closer, the rate of bookings increased. We were advised by Just Helping to leave the donation value open and optional as in their experience on average they saw donations of £7-£10 per tree…they were right! The day before the collection day Just Helping provided us with a map of the addresses where we needed to collect trees from and we were all set.
Due to our rural location serving a dozen or so villages of different sizes, we decided to limit the scope of collections to 2 medium sized villages so we could gain experience of the initiative and make sure we could cope with the demand. On collection day we sent out teams of Lions to collect the trees in cars & vans, bringing them back to a layby where another team of Lions proceeded to process the trees to facilitate easy transportation later on. As we went around the villages we received many comments of goodwill and even picked up some unbooked trees on our travels (even a passing jogger had us follow them to their tree!). The Lions in the layby also received plenty of words of encouragement from the passing public…and quite a few beeps of car horns. In a couple of hours each we had collected all the trees, cleaned up the layby and transported the remains to be converted to mulch in a local woodland (approved by the woodland owner).
For our 1st year, we were delighted to have collected over 100 trees and generated £765 in receipts. Derwent Lions President Ken commented ‘We definitely raised the profile of Lions (and our local Hospice) and we had much fun along the way. Plus we’ve got lots of ideas on how to make next Christmas’s collection much bigger and better.’ Ken added, ‘ I am delighted that our newer members, Jon and Tony, not only brought the idea to life but, with support from other club members, made such a success of the venture. Well done indeed!’