Fredericton man turns Christmas trees into big donation for school breakfast program

·3 min read

When Josh Paul moved from outside city limits into the city of Fredericton, he found himself at a loss with what to do with his Christmas tree.

"Every year for Christmas tree disposal we usually just leave it on the front lawn and burn it for my wife's birthday in May and have a bonfire," said Paul.

His neighbours told him about the Scouts Christmas tree fundraising program, explaining they would pick up Christmas trees in exchange for a donation.

Then the entire province went 'orange.'

The move to the orange phase in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases led to the cancellation of the Scouts popular fundraiser.

His neighbours in Skyline acres were disappointed.

So Paul saw it as a chance to help.

He placed a post on his community's Facebook page pledging to put his pickup truck to work on a Saturday picking up trees for donations.

He hoped to raise $200 for the breakfast program at the Liverpool Street elementary school near his home.

He raised more than five times that amount.

"My two-hundred-dollar goal turned into a donation of a thousand-and-eighty-five-dollars this morning for Liverpool Street School," said Paul.

The donation was unexpected and came as shock to school officials.

It's enough to provide breakfasts for the 285 students for months.

"The thousand dollars is really going to really help to see us almost to the very end of the school year," said Kelly Parks, the principal for Liverpool Street School.

Parks said the donation could also be used for winter boots, coats or snow pants for students in need.

"It was a complete shock, a complete surprise, a lovely surprise," said Parks. "He's such a kind community neighbour."

In his brother's memory

Paul, who works for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said he's been fundraising for different charities and causes consistently for several years now, all in memory of his brother who was killed in a workplace accident back in 2014.

Jordan Gahan, 21, drowned while working in Alberta after his excavator broke through the ice.

Gahan was well-known in New Brunswick for competing in stock car races in Geary at Speedway 660.

Paul said after his brothers death he felt lost, so helping others with fundraising helped him cope.

"I decided then to dedicate my life in memory of my brother to raise money," said Paul.

Paul said he's created some scholarships in memory of his brother, raised $4,000 for the victims of the Nova Scotia shootings that took place in April 2020, as well as fundraising through the booster club for the Fredericton Red Wings hockey team.

"I just like to give back to the community," said Paul. "It fills my heart, these good deeds in this cruel world sometimes."

Paul said he originally only planned to pick up trees last weekend, but with the overwhelming amount of requests since then, he thinks he'll have little choice but to continue picking up trees next weekend.