Matter Park and Marion Utilities had big plans for the 50th annual Earth Day celebration on April 22, complete with food trucks, kids’ activities and educational experiences.

However, due to the stay-at-home order and COVID-19, the celebration was postponed until further notice.

Despite the disappointing news, Marion General Motors (GM) decided to donate 350 trees to the Marion parks department and community members.

“It’s just something that we feel really strongly about, giving back to the community and participating with the community, especially for environmental issues,” said GM Communication Manager Stephanie Jentgen. “It’s a neat way to give back.”

Taylere McCoy, a Matter Park staff member, said 100 trees would be planted in the parks and around the city of Marion, and the other 250 will be given out to community members on Monday.

Among those who ordered trees was city councilwoman Robin Fouce, who plans to plant the trees at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center in Marion.

“Trees represent life and growth,” Fouce said. “In our community and in our world today we need that.”

Fouce said she looks forward to watching the trees grow through the years and add beauty to the community center.

“Marion has good work to do and I think this is part of that process,” Fouce said. “It exemplifies what we need to do all the time. We need to work together and collaborate.”

Matter Park announced the tree giveaway on Monday evening, and by Thursday morning, McCoy said all of the trees had been claimed.

“It was pretty quick,” McCoy said. “We know a lot of people in the community appreciate it.”

McCoy said she is passionate about Earth Day and nature in general and thinks the tree giveaway is essential to the community and the environment.

“As a city, we want to promote going green and increasing the number of trees in the city,” McCoy said. “Since we already had the trees, we didn’t want them to go to waste.”

McCoy also said that she could talk all day long about the importance of trees.

GM donated Pin Oak and Shumard Oak trees, which are both native to Indiana.

“Our wildlife is more adapted to native trees and can use them better for food and shelter,” McCoy said. “Oak trees, in general, are high value for wildlife because they produce a lot of food. They support a lot of different insects, mammals and birds. That’s why these trees are important.”

The trees also provide shade and help with erosion and flood control, McCoy said.

“Trees are pretty versatile and provide a big benefit to both wildlife and people,” McCoy said. “They are pretty important overall.”

GM gives away tree saplings each year at the Earth Day celebration, in line with their focus on environmental sustainability, Jentgen said.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Jentgen said.

“We’re just really excited that GM was willing to donate the trees even though our Earth Day event was canceled,” said Sherry Loshnowsky, the communications specialist for Marion Utilities.

Loshnowsky said Marion Utilities and Matter Park are planning to have an Earth Day celebration later on in the year.

For more information about the postponed event, follow the Gardens of Matter Park Facebook page.

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