Dan Bewley, News On 6
HULBERT, Oklahoma -- A Cherokee County company is reaching out to help tornado ravaged Joplin. Berry Family Nurseries is making a unique donation to the city's residents, giving away more the $40,000 worth of trees.
The Berry Family Nursery in Hulbert spans nearly 500 acres. It sells plants and trees to retailers across the country.
But when the EF-5 tornado hit Joplin this past May, Heidi Berry and her husband watched the coverage and noticed all the trees that were bent, broken, or wiped away.
"My husband, like everybody else during the tornado and all the news coverage, was very taken with all the damage in Joplin, and he had the idea to do something - give something back - and for us the obvious answer was trees," said Heidi Berry of Berry Family Nurseries.
So Thursday morning, 1,000 trees from the company's nursery in Tennessee left for Joplin.
"Everybody, obviously, concentrates on housing and rebuilding structures and that's all so important, but we wanted to also bring to light that the trees were gone and damaged too, and people are going to miss those," Berry said.
Berry says they sent five different tree varieties to the Lowe's on Range Line Road in Joplin. The home improvement store will give away 500 trees on Saturday and 500 on Sunday to any resident who wants one.
"We're encouraging them to replace a tree lost, or just add a new tree, to plant hope and remember that they're going to rebuild, and they're going to recover from this," said Heidi Berry of Berry Family Nurseries.
Berry says the trees will soon be big enough to provide shade, but right now what's important is to replace the drab, debris-filled landscape with the comfort of a young tree.
"The trees that we sent are the larger, mature trees, so that will help give them that wow factor quickly," Berry said.
Berry says they're thrilled the company found a way to help the Joplin community recover and hopes their gift will bring a few smiles.
"I couldn't think of a better way to give back as far as our industry and our family," the Hulbert nursery owner said.
The nursery has plans in the future to send more trees to the city of Joplin; they also want to work with more retailers.