More than two dozen students at True Vine Christian Center gathered in the drizzling rain Friday afternoon to plant a small evergreen tree at the Belleville school to recognize Arbor Day.
Scott Geringer, a financial advisor with Edward Jones, donated the tree to the school as part of Fourth Grade Foresters USA, which is working to revitalize the celebration of Arbor Day.
"These kids have an opportunity to invest in their futures by planting their trees, giving them water and watching them grow," Geringer said. "The tree I planted for Arbor Day over 30 years is still growing and helping clean the air we breathe."
When he was a fourth-grader, Geringer said he planted a small tree at his family's home in Columbia, and the tree is still there.
Geringer talked to the students about the importance of Arbor Day and about the tree they will be planting -- a Norway Spruce. "It grows a foot a year," he said. "My tree is over 30 feet tall now."
The students worked together to carefully plant the tree near the school's playground area. Sixth-grader Wayne Gaston, 12, held the tree in place while classmates filled the hole with dirt around the tree's roots. "It was great," Wayne said.
Fourth-grader Grant Calloway said he liked planting the tree "very much."
"It was an experience," said sixth-grader Alex Jackson.
In addition to caring for a new tree at their school, Geringer sponsored an evergreen tree seedling for each of the first through eighth-grade students at True Vine Christian Center.
"It's a way to give back to the community," Geringer said.
Each tree donated to the students was provided by Fourth Grade Foresters USA and individually packaged for distribution by workers with disabilities.
True Vine Christian Center Director Sandra Rhodes said, it was a "blessing" Geringer showed interest in the community. "It was a good experience for them," she said.
Geringer also donated trees to students at Zion Lutheran School in Belleville.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 618-239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.