-  Boy Scouts work in Hillsboro, Aloha — and all around metro area

So what happens to all those Christmas trees once the holiday season is over, the lights and decorations are put away and the trees begin dropping their needles faster than they can be vacuumed up?

Call in the Boy HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Troop 225 Boy Scout Noah Ford, who lives in Aloha, takes trees from fellow scout Peter Fillo of Hillsboro and hauls them up into a container. The pair were among more than two dozen Troop 225 scouts and volunteers working over the weekend to collect and recycle Christmas trees, an annual Boy Scouts fundraiser.

Boy Scout troops all around the region were out and about over the past two weekends, gathering Christmas trees for recycling as a fundraiser as well as a good deed.

On Saturday, a team of about two dozen scouts from Hillsboro’s Troop 225 were tackling the assignment in Hillsboro and Aloha, going out in trucks with adult volunteers and gathering trees left on the curb for pickup or unloading trees from those who dropped them off at the scouts’ collection site in the Ladd Acres Elementary School parking lot on Cornelius Pass Road.

Troop 225 transformed the school’s parking area into a huge Christmas tree lot in reverse — with truckloads of trees being disposed of rather than being selected for holiday festivities.

“We collect trees every year at this site,” said Vince Ford, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 225. “Troops all over the region are doing the same thing we’re doing this weekend.”

Ford said the Christmas tree recycling program has been going on for about 20 years, and represents the troop’s biggest fundraiser each year.

“The money goes to the troop and to individual scouts, to provide money for camps and related events,” explained Ford. “The average cost is $300 to $400 to camp each year for each scout. This event goes a long way to pay for that. It’s an opportunity for them to work and earn their way.”

Residents pay $5 to have their discarded Christmas trees picked up and recycled. The trees are hauled to S&H Logging Co., which uses the trees for chipping or grinds them up and uses them for boiler fuel.

“It’s nice to have a fundraiser that doesn’t involve selling,” said volunteer Lou Loeb, a North Plains resident who served as scoutmaster for Troop 162 in Beaverton for 26 years before retiring. “This one gives them a big chance to raise money — and it’s fun. These are really good kids.”

In addition to the fundraising aspect of the tree pickup effort, scouts said they enjoyed collecting the trees and the camaraderie of the weekend activity.

“I like spending time with other people,” said Ziah Foster, a senior patrol leader and a freshman at the Hillsboro Online Academy. “It’s fun to work together.”

Peter Fillo, an assistant patrol leader, pointed out that while the task required some hard work, it was more fun than drudgery.

“We go out and pick up trees off curbs and get the donations,” said Fillo, a freshman at Hillsboro High School.

Fillo said he got involved in scouting because he liked camping, but as he gained more experience in the Boy Scouts he found he also enjoyed mentoring others.

“I’ve been in scouting since I was 10 years old, and both my brothers were in scouts,” he said. “I like teaching younger boys different skills.”

Foster said his experience with scouting was similar to Fillo’s.

“I like camping and teaching,” Foster said. “I’ve been in since Cub Scouts. I started at age 6.”

The troop typically collects between 1,000 and 1,500 trees each year, and the scouts were right on target with this year’s haul.

“We were able to collect 1,331 trees over the two weekends this year,” said Ford.

Valley West Refuse Service sponsored this year’s tree recycling effort. The company donated its services to the Boy Scouts, providing several large containers to hold the trees and then trucking them to the disposal site, all at no charge.

According to Ford, Hillsboro-based Valley West and Aloha Garbage & Recycling Co. in Aloha alternate donating their services each year, while the school donates the use of its parking lot.

The Boy Scouts collect the trees over two weekends — the weekend after Christmas and the following weekend as well. Scouts are out collecting trees all around the metropolitan area, with each troop responsible for a different section of the community. For Troop 225, the area stretched from Quatama Road to Farmington.

Although the main tree collection effort is over for the year, Ford said there may still be a few trees to bring in.

“We do miss a few trees in the community, and volunteers will try to follow up with any folks who got missed by mistake the rest of this week, collecting as many as possible,” he said.

Ford added that anyone whose tree was missed over the weekend can send an email to Troop 225 (see box) and the scouts will come and pick it up.

“We can’t typically take extra trees from outside of the area we serve, but hopefully there are other troops available to help our community in those areas,” said Ford.

Ford said he was grateful to the entire community for its support of the Boy Scouts’ annual tree collection program.

“The community is very, very generous to us, and we appreciate and really love that,” Ford said. “We would like to thank Valley West Refuse Service for providing services that allows the troop to take on such a large project.

“We also received support for this project from the Century High School band, which helped with getting the word out about the services we provide.”

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