Mayor Chris Beutler today announced two major changes to the City's voluntary donation efforts. 2 For Trees will allow customers of the Lincoln Water System (LWS) to add $2 to their bill payments for funding support of public trees along streets, in parks, along trails and in golf courses. The Lincoln Cares program, which began in 2003 to support Parks and Recreation projects, is expanding to support Lincoln City Libraries and Aging Partners.
"Lincoln residents have shown us again and again that they strongly support voluntary donation programs that add so much to the high quality of life we enjoy," said Mayor Beutler. "They also appreciate the opportunity to target their contributions of time and money to the programs of their choice. I strongly encourage the public to continue to support Lincoln Cares and to sign up for the new 2 for Trees program. Your donations are a significant investment in Lincoln's future. "
Donations to the new 2 for Trees program are matched by the Kenneth J. Good Environmental Enhancement Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation and in-kind donations from private nurseries. The City's 125,000 public trees, include 87,000 which line 1,217 miles of streets.
"These trees add value and beauty to our neighborhoods and provide many economic, health, environmental and community benefits," said Beutler. "Unfortunately, disease and storms have taken a toll on our community forest in the last few years. Right now, only one of five street trees lost to disease, decline or damage is replaced. The 2 for Trees program is an easy and affordable way for all citizen to take the extra step to help maintain our beautiful urban forest."
"One of the hallmarks of Lincoln's quality of life is its canopy of trees," said Barbara Bartle, President of the Lincoln Community Foundation. "The Foundation, on behalf of the Kenneth J. Good Fund, is pleased to be a partner in 2 for Trees. Ken loved flowers and trees and would generously offer plants and flowers from his yard to others. This program is an ideal legacy for Ken and a wonderful way for our community to continue to tend for our city's beautiful trees."
Nursery sponsors include Finke Gardens and Nursery, Campbell's Nurseries and Garden Centers, Earl May Nursery and Garden Centers (north and south), Heritage Nursery West and Nebraska Nursery and Color Gardens.
"This new program will help provide regular, ongoing funding that is needed to maintain a multi-generational urban forest in public areas," said Lynn Johnson, Director of Lincoln Parks and Recreation. Johnson said 2 for Trees will not replace the City's popular street tree voucher program that is available for residential areas.
From its inception in February 2003 through December 2011, Lincoln Cares has collected nearly $600,000 from LES customers who added a dollar to their bill payments. Nearly 4,000 LES customers donated to the program each month in 2011. Additional contributions of nearly $500,000 have come from direct donations to the Lincoln Parks Foundation and through partnerships with Pepsi, Gallup, Lincoln Benefit Life, Olsson Associates and Culver's Restaurants. The total for all collections since Lincoln Cares began is about $1.1 million.
The Mayor made the announcements at Gere Branch Library, one of the library locations where Lincoln Cares will fund Learning to Read spaces. (A list of new and previously funded Lincoln Cares projects follows this release.) Sponsors providing matching funds for the projects include the Lincoln Parks Foundation; Vintage Heights Neighborhood Association; the Dorothy Martin Fund of the Foundation for Lincoln City Libraries; Woods Brothers Realty; State Farm; Lincoln Area Retired School Personnel; Olsson Associates; Michael Sucha Memorial Fund/Annual Golf Tournament; and the Great Plains Trails Network.
"We are grateful to be included in the successful Lincoln Cares program, which will allow us to enhance what we offer to families," said Pat Leach, Director of Lincoln City Libraries. "Raising successful readers requires a mixed approach. We're proud of the books and storytimes we provide, and creating Leading to Reading spaces adds one more element that nurtures children as they become readers."
"Donations to Lincoln Cares will allow Aging Partners to provide assistance to older Lincoln residents who are still living independently in their own homes," said June Pederson, Director of Aging Partners. "Thanks to LES customers, we will be able to offer help with chores like snow removal and lawn care that can be difficult for those we serve.
Mayor Beutler thanked the project sponsors and the five Lincoln media organizations which are again providing $30,000 of advertising and promotion. Media sponsors are KOLN/KGIN- TV; KLKN-TV; Three Eagles Communications; Broadcast House; and the Lincoln Journal Star.
To donate to Lincoln Cares, LES customers can add one dollar to their monthly payments. Those who pay LES through automatic bank billing can add Lincoln Cares to their payments by calling LES at 402-475-4211. Donations also can be mailed directly to the Lincoln Parks Foundation, 2740 "A" Street, Box 201, Lincoln, NE 68502 or made online at LincolnCares.org.
To donate to 2 For Trees, LWS customers can add $2 to their bi-monthly water bill; mail a donation to 2 for Trees, 2740 "A" Street, Lincoln, NE 68502 ; or donate online at 2forTrees.org.
Both programs also can be found at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: donate).