OCEANFRONT — On New Year’s Eve, some Christmas decorations came down at Chicho’s Pizza at the Oceanfront to make ready for 2020, and giant bags of colorful balloons were on hand. Just outside, a chunk of the lot near the corner of Pacific Avenue and 29th Street looked like a tree lot, with stacks of Christmas trees gathered – and many more on the way – for a good cause.
For the second year, the original Chicho’s is collecting Christmas trees to give them a new mission shoring up the dunes at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
Matt Potter, owner of Chicho’s at the Oceanfront, said the trees gathered here and collections efforts at other Chicho’s locations, will ultimately be delivered to Better Beaches OBX for beach stabilization efforts.
“We’ve had some good drop-offs,” said Victor Enriquez, a Birdneck resident and owner of Virginia Beach SKIMunity House, a skimboard group partnering with Chicho’s in the effort. “We already beat our number last year, which is a little over 500.”
“We’ve been getting trees every day,” said Potter, a resident of Pine Meadows.
The effort started last year with inspiration from Rory Schindel, then of the Oceanfront Chicho’s and now a partner in the Norfolk location. He had ties to the Outer Banks, and he was aware of other efforts to collect trees for the dunes.
“We expected 100 trees and got five times that,” Potter said.
This year, they may collect more than 1,000, and about 700 were at the lot. After this story was first published in print, they reached the limit of what they can bring down. The trees are scheduled to be delivered on Saturday, Jan. 18, to the Outer Banks — and they are looking for people who can help transport the trees.
“It’s just a good way to help the Outer Banks, to preserve the beaches and dunes,” Potter added.
Potter said there are plans for Chicho’s to develop a nonprofit and do something with the local beaches, too.
“We’ve got to preserve the beaches, not just for today but for the future generation,” Enriquez said.
He smiled, adding: “I was going to say ‘future shredders,’ but we’ll say ‘community.’”
Sandra McDonald of Strawbridge, helped by her son Trevor, delivered trees to Chicho’s in the evening hours of Dec. 30. It was one of several trips they have made because they are gathering trees from others and bringing them to the restaurant. They did much the same last year.
“We decided what a fun idea,” Sandra McDonald said. “We’ve got 12 trees in my yard right now. … It’s a good cause. It’s better than them being in the garbage.”
There is one tree she has not delivered yet, however. “My tree’s still up,” she said. “The deadline is the 16th.”
A number of other people dropped off trees the following day, and they said they were glad to participate in the effort. Brittany Guido remembered finding trees in the dunes years ago. “It helps keep the dunes in place,” Guido said.
Alex Doughty of Chesapeake, who also dropped off a tree, said, “We go to the Outer Banks all the time. Anything to help them out.”
Volunteers – especially those with trailers – are sought to help transport trees to the Outer Banks on Saturday, Jan. 18. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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