Thirteen-year-olds Anna Katherine Tankersley, Tommy Marlowe and Jack Wilbanks each received a plum tree in their name at the Sylacauga Grows community garden on Monday. The trees are a special “thank you” to the group for their donation of $728.
The teens, all with March birthdays, raised the funds through a joint birthday party where they asked for donations to Sylacauga Grows in lieu of birthday gifts.
Margaret Morton, Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement director, said their donation proves they are “exceptional young people.”
“Rather than receive gifts, they gifted us, and they gifted the environment and the future,” Morton said. “With their generosity, not only these trees, but this garden hopefully has the capacity to sustain itself. Many people will benefit from their generosity because these are sustainable and renewable resources. These young people are serving as role models for others to give back in the same way.”
Anna Katherine, daughter of Sid and Angie Tankersley, said she and her friends looked for a way to benefit others through their birthdays.
“We thought donating to the garden was a good cause because it would give back to the community now and in the future,” she said.
Jack, son of David and Laurie Wilbanks, and Tommy, son of Steve and Amy Marlowe, said it felt good to donate rather than receive gifts.
“It seemed like a nice thing to do, and it’s good because it helps SAFE,” Tommy said.
Jack said the trees will also serve as a permanent reminder of their thirteenth birthday.
“It means a lot that we will be able to come back later and still have the trees here,” he said.
SAFE’s lead gardener Bill Roberts told the teens that they have blessed many people by helping the garden grow.
“Everybody on this earth has a gift and an opportunity to help other people, and it's up to us to find and nurture that gift,” Roberts said. “You have done that with just one of the gifts that you have by participating and helping us add to our orchard. We look forward to every fruit that comes off these trees having your name on it.”
Morton said the teens’ willingness to give is a product of their supportive parents.
“If there is one thing SAFE is about, it is strong families, and obviously these young people have been born into families that are nurturing and supporting them in a very positive fashion, and these are the fruits of their labor,” Morton said.
The fruit orchard, which was started last November, has a variety of apple, pear and plum trees. Each tree in the orchard is dedicated in memory or honor of a person of group.
The orchard is part of the community garden in Sylavon Court. Summer crops at the garden include green beans, strawberries, blueberries, corn, tomatoes and more. Produce baskets are available at SAFE for $5 each.
The garden also gathers fresh honey that is sold at Yoder’s Family Traditions.
Trees are still available at a cost of $50, which includes a personalized marker placed at the base of the tree. For more information, contact SAFE at 256-245-4343.
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.