By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The bicyclist headed east Saturday morning along Wilden Avenue. She called out to the small groups of people busy planting trees on the north side of the road.
“Thank you!,” she said.
“You’re welcome,” volunteer Jill Koop Liechty of Goshen replied. “Enjoy your ride.”
The cyclist rode on. And the work continued.
Volunteers gathered at Goshen’s Oakridge Cemetery Saturday for a tree-planting project. The group of around 50 — more than the 20 to 30 organizer and Goshen city Forester Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley had expected — was set to plant 23 trees both in the cemetery and westward along Wilden.
The trees are “Trail of Hope” trees, donated by IU Health Goshen Hospital Center for Cancer Care personnel in recognition of cancer survivors. Cancer Care center staff annually donate at least 100 trees to the Goshen forestry program.
Health was a theme for Sawatsky-Kingsley as he spoke to the volunteers before planting got under way.
“When we take care of our environment, plant trees, take care of trees, we’re also taking care of our bodies and I think also taking care of our souls,” he said. “These things all go together.”
Sawatsky-Kingsley indicated the Cancer Care tree donation, coupled with the volunteers’ donated planting efforts, will benefit Goshen residents “maybe even 100 years from now.”
“You should feel very good about what you’re doing this morning,” he said. “You’re participating in something really important.”
The participants included Goshen High School students, and Assembly Mennonite and College Mennonite youth groups.
Goshen High School teacher Cindy Swihart took part in the project along with her 13-year-old son, whom she said likes to do community service.
“I think it’s great to have the community come together and do something that helps the community,” Swihart said. “Trees help the environment. ...It’s neat to see my students out here doing volunteer work, as well as with my son.”
Ellie Hathaway of Goshen was planting with fellow members of her College Mennonite Church youth group.
“We just decided to do some service to help see the light of God,” she said. “And we decided planting trees was a good service.”