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Doubly Green: Christmas Trees and Cash for Schools

Honey Bear Trees lots in Redwood City is open for business! The beloved tree lot works with many local schools and organizations to donate back thousands of dollars each year. A second lot in San Carlos opens this Friday.

Nothing says “Christmas” like bundling up in warm jackets, mittens and scarves and piling the whole family into the car to head over to the tree lot and pick out the family Christmas tree.

Well, when that tree lot is in Redwood City or San Carlos, you now have yet another reason to feel good and festive about picking out that tree—because Honey Bear Trees partners with roughly 45 local schools to donate back 15 percent of its proceeds.

“Honey Bear Trees is just the best,” Amy Buckmaster of the said enthusiastically.

How Honey Bear Trees Got its Name

More than 40 years ago, a young beekeeper in Oregon named Hans decided to start growing Christmas trees on his land in addition to tending to his bees. As the trees matured, he began selling them to local families during the holidays.

For each family that came to buy a tree from him, he sent them home with a jar of delicious, home-grown honey.

Today, owner and manager Aaron Boyle continues that tradition with Honey Bear Trees (HBT) at 955 Woodside Road in Redwood City, and now a second location at 1579 El Camino Real in San Carlos. Just like Hans—who still grows trees and tends to his bees in Oregon, to this day—Boyle and the staff of HBT offer each and every person who buys a tree a free jar of honey.

“We’ve been doing that for the past 25-plus years,” he said. “The kids love it—they come with their families, and they want to make sure they get their honey. It’s a tradition.”

All Types of Trees, All Types of Services

There are a lot of things to love about a Honey Bear tree. For starters, the lot and its trees all meet USDA standards, the lot promotes sustainable growing and shares best practices with other tree farmers, and all of the trees are fresh and 100 percent naturally grown. HBT is also a member of several state and national tree associations.

“We grow 90 percent of the trees we sell here ourselves,” Boyle said.

HBT offers several different types of firs, such as Noble, Douglas, Fraser and Grand, in sizes that range from two to 16 feet.

“If you go to our website and request it, we can usually even get you a 20-foot tree if you really want it,” Boyle added.

What really sets HBT apart is the exceptional service they give, that really goes above and beyond.

“We provide full service, from helping the customer pick out the perfect tree for their holiday enjoyment, to securing the tree to the customer’s car,” Boyle explained.

Boyle added, HBT will even deliver a tree to your home, anywhere in the Greater Bay Area, from San Francisco down to San Jose, for a separate fee.

HBT is also one of the only tree companies that offers pick-up and recycling services for after the holidays are over. During the first week of January following New Year’s, for a separate fee, HBT will come to your home, pick up your used holiday tree and haul it away for you, to be recycled through Recology.

The lot also sells fresh wreaths, garlands and mistletoe.

Giving Back to Local Schools

What Boyle is most passionate about is the fundraising program HBT offers to roughly 45 schools in Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park and San Carlos.

Boyle said he partners with the schools and their Parent-Teacher Associations to make a flier that the schools send home with students or put in their newsletters, advertising that all a family has to do is mention the name of their school when they purchase a tree from HBT, and 15 percent will go back to the school.

“All parents have to say is, ‘I’m here from Woodside Elementary,’ or whatever school their child goes to, and then we write that school’s name down and attach a receipt to the fundraising form, and we give back 15 percent back to the school,” Boyle explained.

Last year, HBT donated approximately $6,800 to local schools.

In an effort to promote more local businesses and corporations using natural trees for their holiday parties or displays instead of plastic, HBT also partners with the Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce for a similar fundraiser. The Chamber sends out a notice to all its business members letting them know that, if they purchase a tree from HBT, 15 percent will be donated back to Redwood City and San Carlos education foundations, to benefit outdoor education programs throughout the area.

“The money benefits local families that can’t afford to enroll their kids in outdoor education programs,” said Boyle. “Over the past four years, this has grown into a really great program for the local schools.”

A Merry Christmas for All

All in all, Boyle very obviously loves his job, making the holidays brighter for local families while helping local schools at the same time.

So, when it comes time to pick out the family Christmas tree this year, Boyle and many local schools hope you’ll choose Honey Bear Trees. Don’t forget, it means you get a free jar of fresh honey, too!

The Redwood City lot at 955 Woodside Road is now open, and the San Carlos lot at 1579 El Camino Real will be open for business this Friday, Nov. 25. Both lots are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information about Honey Bear Trees or its school fundraising programs—and to see if your child’s school is on the list—visit www.honeybeartrees.com.

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