The William & Mary Student Assembly and the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship are joining together to replace some of the trees on campus and in the community that were destroyed by Hurricane Irene.
The project, titled “Deep Roots,” launched its fundraising efforts this month. Organizers say they expect to begin planting trees in October.
“Symbolically, it’s pretty powerful because it’s showcasing us giving back to the community,” said Student Assembly President Kaveh Sadeghian ’12, adding that the title of the campaign is about more than trees. It’s about the relationship between the College and the Williamsburg community.
“Both entities are both incredibly deeply rooted with one another,” he said.
Each tree will cost approximately $50, but there is no minimum donation. The recipients of the trees will have five options to choose from. The SA and OCES are currently working with the community to determine where to get the trees, who needs the trees the most and who will plant them. The SA is also contacting student groups about possibly sponsoring trees.
"Off campus, in local neighborhoods, especially older, wooded sections, there is devastation,” said Drew Stelljes, director of community engagement. Stelljes has experience with trees falling around – and on – his house. He and his wife lost 11 trees during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
“One fell into our bedroom and rested on our bed,” he said. “Imagine an old oak tree on the bed and squirrels running through the room. But we fixed the home and we healed too. It meant a lot to have the support of the William & Mary community. This is a small, tangible way to show our affection for our neighbors."
Sadeghian said that he hopes the project will show the community a different side of the campus.
“I think that’s where our student body’s strength is, in the students’ hearts,” he said. “That’s where the real human connections happen, and that, I think, is one of our assets as a campus. I think if we give that to Williamsburg, not only are we helping our community out but we are also improving town/gown relations through a much more human, approachable perspective.”
People interested in donating may do so online; under “other designation donors,” type donation code 3531 (trees and Irene). Donations may also be mailed to: Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, Blow Memorial Hall Room 326, P.O. Box 8795, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795. For more information, call OCES at (757) 221-3263.