Each year, Santa takes to the skies, and a group of Parkrose Boy Scouts cover the streets. Scouts collect canned and perishable goods for the impoverished as part of Scouting for Food, a national program. They also throw the Tree Recycle, a fundraiser that escorts naked trees following holiday festivities to a recycling center (“Parkrose Boy Scouts deliver community through holiday traditions,” MCM December 2016). Sadly, donations did not reach expectations last year—despite an exponentially growing homeless population. “Last year was a poor showing; we had bad weather/snow covering most of our open days,” says Steve Warner, who has taken the reins this year over most of the recycling from troop leader Travis Martin. “I would say we did roughly 400 trees.”

Walsh Trucking Company, a Pacific Northwest family business “providing high-quality service to wood residual and solid waste customers,” according to their website, donates a trailer to the scouts to fill. Walsh Trucking then takes the trailer to the recycling centers.

The service is not free. Typically, dropping off a used green tree will set you back $5, and pickup costs $8.

There are a couple marked shifts this year. Cub Scout Pack 4 is set to discontinue their participation in the events, leaving Boy Scouts Troop 606 with around 18 active members to fend for themselves. Contacting the Scouts for pickup may itself become thornier. “They have also lined up a place that would work with us as a nonprofit for the recycling center,” explains Warner. “However, they do not pick up from houses. Some parents and Scouts will drive around looking for trees and knocking on doors [of houses where trees] are in the yard and ask if they would like it recycled.  Call 503-348-9787 to arrange pick up.”

Boy Scouts troops are fleeting operations, and falling participation among troops in seasonal activities may reflect national declines in membership. According to Breakpoint.org, “between 2013 and 2016 (the last year for which numbers are publicly available), membership has fallen by about 10 percent.”

For now, Troop 606 or, more accurately, east Portland’s homeless community might suffer from lack of participation in the canned drive.

Follow Boy Scout Troop 606 on Facebook to get updates for where to drop off your tree, as well as other updates for Troop 606 community events. Contact Sue Lampe at 503-560-1148 for more information.