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04/25/2007 ~ As Keys Energy Services’ (KEYS) Tree Giveaway reaches its 13th anniversary, countless Florida Keys residents have long been reaping the rewards of the native trees that were given out in the early years of this anticipated annual event.

Nancy D’Amato, a Senior Marketing Executive at Clear Channel Radio, attended one of the first giveaways that KEYS hosted in the mid-1990s and received a Gumbo Limbo, which has thrived at her Staples Avenue home ever since. When asked the secret to her venerable green thumb, D’Amato exclaimed she rarely waters the Gumbo Limbo and jokingly added that she treats it, “like dirt.” Given that the tree is native to the region, minimal watering and attention is required to ensure its continued prosperity and the shade it provides to help cut down on cooling costs.

A few blocks down Staples Avenue at the Grace Lutheran school, a large Mahogany tree once stood that also started out as a small potted plant at KEYS first giveaway in 1994. Sadly, in the early 2000s a severe thunderstorm destroyed the tree which necessitated its eventual removal.

David Rose, a retired teacher and master wood-worker, salvaged the strong mahogany wood and saw to its eventual revival as a bathroom vanity in his Flagler Avenue home. “The construction took approximately two months to complete,” said Rose, “and it needed a mere clear coat of varnish to bring out the wood’s natural beauty.”

“While the intent of the giveaway is to help add to the tree canopy of the Lower Florida Keys and to promote conservation,” said Lynne Tejeda, KEYS General Manager & CEO, “I was excited to learn of one tree that found a different life through Mr. Rose’s talent.”

KEYS Tree Giveaway, which began in 1994, is part of a nationwide public power program called TREE POWER sponsored by the American Public Power Association (APPA). The national goal is to plant one tree for every public power customer for a total of 16 million trees.

KEYS received the Golden Tree Award from the APPA in 2004 for reaching its goal of planting more than 27,500 trees, or one for every customer it serves. To-date, KEYS has given away over 30,000 trees and has a commitment from the Utility Board to continue to sponsor this successful annual program well in to the future due to the energy conservation benefits these native shade tree provide.

Tejeda said that, “large cities such as New York are realizing the many benefits of trees in helping to reduce air pollution, cooling temperatures, and improving the city’s long-term sustainability.” She added that at, “recent Earth Day events in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to add 1-million trees to the New York City landscape by 2017.”

For KEYS customers looking to beautify their landscapes and reap the benefits of the shade provided by trees, KEYS will host its 13th Annual Tree Giveaway on Saturday, May 5th, from 8:30 till 11:00 a.m. at KEYS Service Building in Key West and at the Cudjoe Key Diesel Site on Blimp Road, Cudjoe Key.

Approximately 2,000 trees (1,000 at each location) will be given out on a first-come, first-serve, basis for all KEYS customers, who will have their choice of two free native shade trees each. Customers are urged to log on to and click on the Tree Giveaway icon for up-to-date event information and a listing of tree species that will be available.

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