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In a project that will beautify Newark for decades to come, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) and its volunteer employees this weekend will plant dozens of trees to kick off an overall campaign to plant 350 trees city-wide in partnership with Newark Celebration 350 and the New Jersey Tree Foundation (NJTF).

More than 75 Horizon BCBSNJ employees from the company’s Newark and other locations are expected at Jesse Allen Park on Saturday, Oct. 22 to set in place nearly three dozen 12-foot tall trees as part of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s annual Day of Caring. These trees will be matched to the species already in the park, thickening the tree canopy that makes the park – the City’s second largest – a leafy retreat in the Central Ward.

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The 350 trees planting campaign is one of three Legacy Gift projects initiated by Newark Celebration 350 that will have an impact long after the city’s anniversary year comes to an end. The project is organized by the New Jersey Tree Foundation, a non-profit that promotes urban forestry in the state’s largest cities. Since 2006, the New Jersey Tree Foundation has planted 2,555 trees in Newark and provides instruction, materials and training to the community.

The benefits of trees and greenery in the inner city have been well documented. Trees not only transform barren streets with overhead shelter, but provide fresh oxygen, temper summer heat and winter winds, and absorb storm water that can cause urban flooding. The Legacy Gift Tree Planting project is likely to be one of the most enduring aspects of the citywide anniversary, nudging Newark toward a recommended tree canopy of 30 to 35 percent from the current 17 percent.

‘We welcome Horizon’s generous support for making our neighborhoods greener and more welcoming,” said Junius Williams, Chair of Newark Celebration 350. “I believe that everyone who helps put a new tree in place here will feel that they have a personal stake in Newark’s future.”

Fundraising continues for other Legacy Gift projects, which also include restoration and re-installation of the neglected 1916 Landing Monument sculpture created by Gutzon Borglum, best known for his masterwork, Mount Rushmore. The third project is a Newark College Student Success Fund offering emergency mini-grants to prevent students from dropping out of college.

The schedule is as follows:

Date: Saturday, October 22, 8 a.m. to noon (rain or shine)

Location: Jesse Allen Park, Avon Avenue and Irving Turner Boulevard, Newark

8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.                                           Registration and Continental breakfast

8:45 a.m. – 9 a.m.                                           Welcome and introductions

9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.                                         Project instructions and demonstrations

11:30 a.m. – noon                                           Clean-up and departure

Newark Celebration 350 (NC350) is a year-long spectacular of marquee programs, unique events and fun festivities commemorating the historic milestone of the city’s founding. More than 150 programs will highlight Newark’s remarkable achievements, diverse communities and extraordinary culture presented by a unique coalition of citizens, educational institutions, cultural organizations and community groups.

For more information on Newark Celebration 350, visit nc350.org

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