On a crisp March morning, about 100 Gig Harbor Rotary Club members and Henderson Bay High School students dug in the dirt at Grandview Forest Park to plant saplings.
“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday,” Henderson Bay student Solie Bates said. “It’s fun helping the community. Gives us a sense of accomplishment. And on a weekend I would like to spend it in bed, it gets me outside.”
Bates is a member of Henderson Bay High School Interact Club, a high school branch of the Rotary Club organization.
On Saturday, all three Gig Harbor Rotary Clubs and the Henderson Bay Interact Club planted 340 trees in Grandview Forest Park, next to the Gig Harbor Civic Center, as a way to give back to the community and to make an impact on the local environment.
Marilyn Hoppen, current president of the Gig Harbor Rotary Midday Club, enjoyed greeting members with coffee and blueberry pancakes on Saturday.
“The reason we’re doing this, the Rotary organization president asked every member of Rotary to plant a tree this year,” Hoppen said. “He’s all about environmental sustainability. There is like 1.2 million Rotarians so there will be 1.2 million trees planted around the world.”
Hoppen said in 2015, the city had to remove some trees because of root rot and other issues, so the local Rotarians decided to plant trees in hopes to replace the missing trees in the park. The clubs planted four types of trees including Ponderosa pines and cedar trees.
We want to teach them to give back to not just the communities we live in but the whole world. It’s an honor.
President of the Gig Harbor Morning Rotary Club Mel Santos
The three Gig Harbor Rotary Clubs — Gig Harbor North, Gig Harbor Midday and Gig Harbor Evening — have close to a combined 200 members in the area.
Rotary Clubs are community organizations that were formed 110 years ago in hopes to help eradicate polio. The organization is now global with clubs in over 200 countries. Besides helping with the fight against polio, the local clubs also participate in local politics, community funding and volunteer projects.
Gig Harbor Mayor Kit Kuhn joined the Rotary Clubs and Interact Club for breakfast and tree planting on Saturday. Kuhn said he is becoming a member of the Gig Harbor Evening Rotary Club and decided planting trees on Saturday morning would be a fun way to spend the day.
“I live two blocks from here and I am passionate about Grandview Forest,” Kuhn said. “I even put money in our will that will go to Grandview Forest when I die. I walk this forest almost every other day with my dog. It’s beautiful and I feel we are supposed to be good stewards of the Earth, and planting trees is right up my ally.”
The mayor planned to spend three hours that morning in the forest with a personal goal to plant 40 trees.
“I just believe in nature,” Kuhn said. “The city can’t do everything so our goal is to partner with clubs like Rotary.”
Although the trees are small now, many members hope they can enjoy the park for the next couple of decades and see their trees grow.
“I’ll be back in 20 years and check on you,” Paul Raschke, a member of the Midday Rotary Club, said. “I think this is a cedar tree.”
Mel Santos, president of the Morning Rotary Club, spent the morning with the Interact Club students digging holes and planting trees.
“There are actually helping us, but it helps the younger kids in school by giving them the opportunity to help the community,” Santos said. “We want to teach them to give back to not just the communities we live in but the whole world. It’s an honor.”