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Paul Maurer, right, chairman of Re-Tree WNY, accepts a check from The Buffalo News’ Cindy Sterner, left, and Stanford Lipsey.
Charles Lewis/Buffalo News

Green Leaf campaign nets $189,932 for Re-Tree WNY

Money will help replace trees lost in October Surprise


The day the October Surprise storm hit three years ago, Alex Howard was a middle school student playing a football game in Amherst.

He says he will always remember the drive back home to Grand Island.

“It was a terrible thing to see. We drove by all these trees that were tipped over and cracked. Some branches were waist-level,” said Alex, now a junior at Grand Island High School. “I remember wondering how badly the trees would be damaged.”

Alex was part of the school’s 27- member choir that performed during a check presentation to Re-Tree WNY on Friday in the lobby of The Buffalo News. The $189,932 check came from The News’ second Green Leaf campaign.

The campaign collected more than 2,200 individual donations, more than three times the number of people who participated in 2007. The News made a $30,000 matching grant this year.

“This is a generous contribution,” said Paul Maurer, chairman of Re- Tree WNY.

The surprise storm destroyed about 30,000 trees, some of which were more than 300 years old. In response to the disaster, Re-Tree WNY was formed to replace the damaged trees over five years.

News Publisher Stanford Lipsey and his wife, Judi, helped jump-start the effort in 2007 with a $50,000 matching grant. Donations from community leaders and hundreds of readers raised enough money to plant 1,166 trees in the City of Buffalo, the Olmsted Parks and the surrounding suburbs, including Grand Island.

Alex planted some trees there through his involvement with his local Boy Scout group. “It really felt good that I was doing something to contribute to the environment,” he said.

During Friday’s event, students from the choir presented Lipsey with hand-made oak leaves.

“It’s a symbol of the tree-planting,” said Jenna Cardone, also a junior. “And how this is such a great opportunity.