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Made for the shade
GES digs into Making the Shade grant
emma and sarah farmer
Emma Farmer, 4, and her mom, Sarah Farmer ready an augured hole for a new tree. - photo by Photo by Calli Arnold

More than 50 volunteers spent their Saturday morning digging in the dirt at Guyton Elementary School.

GES was one of four schools in the state this year to receive a Making the Shade grant for $4,000. The trees are mostly oaks and elms, as well as other large tree varieties.

“I think it’s going to make a huge difference out here, just with the shade and the beautification of the whole playground,” said GES Principal Charlotte Connelly.

For the last five years, Making the Shade has been part of Georgia Forestry’s Sustainable Communities program. It offers grant money to schools to plant trees around their playgrounds and building to create a cooler, healthier environment for students.

“The whole idea behind the program is to try to make the environment at the schools healthier for kids by decreasing the temperature on the playground, the equipment itself and by improving air quality,” said Joan Scales, Urban and Community Forestry coordinator for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The GES grant was signed in August and school officials, PTO members and Georgia Forestry representatives have been working since September to get their trees in the ground.

Marshall Reiser, whose wife is a PTO officer, wrote the grant for the school after GES consulted Georgia Forestry on planting trees that had been donated by the Arbor Day Foundation.

“It’s not so much aesthetics that we are after as much as creating a healthy environment for the kids,” he said.

In addition to student and parent volunteers, local Boy Scouts came out to help, as did Georgia Power representatives, who donated the mulch. Southern Rental was on hand as well with heavy machinery to spread the mulch and help move the trees around the playground. The Guyton Fire Department has volunteered to help water the trees.

“Now different classes are going to have trees that they’ll be assigned that they have to water. So they’re going to have to help take care of the trees,” Connelly said.