Rev. Gary Shaw and Sandra Robinson of the Needham Community Council.
For twenty-three years Carter Memorial United Methodist Church has been picking up brown, dry, needleless, tinsel draped Christmas trees and bringing them to the Needham Recycling Center. People begin to make their “pick up” reservations right after Thanksgiving dinner and church volunteers, regardless of weather, do their best to locate, wrangle and dispose of the trees.
It hasn’t always been easy.
This year COVID meant stricter conditions with those volunteering, in other years, it was trucks getting stuck in snowbanks and volunteers shivering from heavy rains and cold temperatures. When the day is done and a hot cup of coffee is in hand, every volunteer knows that they, and by extension Carter Memorial, has made a difference in the community and world.
Since 2010 Carter Christmas Trees have donated over $118,000 to various organizations. In addition to the one time donations, multiple year donations have been made to organizations such as Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Imagine No Malaria, Rosie’s Place, Justice for Our Neighbors, Boston Food Bank, US Disaster Relief, Gift of Warmth, Ecclesia Ministries, Hattie B. Cooper Community Center, Family Promise Metro-West, and the Needham Community Council. In 2021 $10,690 was donated to the Boston Food Bank and $7,125 to the Needham Community Council.
The saying is true “it takes a village” to make these donations. Church volunteers and their families donate between 300 and 350 hours of time and make between 600 and 825 stops each year. The church expressed its gratitude to: Joe Cocuzzo, chief GPS router, truck rental negotiator and administrator; Linda Ashbaugh, Alli Cocuzzo, Laura Damon, Cindy Vietor and Sally Zoppo, who manage reservations, communications, advertising, thank you notes and smoothing ruffled feather; Carter staff members Kathie Zeman and Ashley Murphy; Hazel’s Bakery for coffee and sustenance; Matthew DeMarrais Assistant Superintendent Recycling and Solid Waste Division; the Town of Needham; unnamed but appreciated volunteers; and the residents of Needham who make these donations possible. The net proceeds of these efforts reach out into the community and world, not to the church building and programs.