The neighborhood surrounding the Hollinger K-8 School on Tucson’s southside is looking greener after students and volunteers planted several native trees.

Every year, the students at the Hollinger K-8 School start growing 400-500 trees during the month of August. This is all done with the help of Steve Bland, who goes by “Mr. Steve.”

I was a teacher at Hollinger for 15 years,” Bland said. “And I ran a program called Outdoor Learning. And we had a big garden, along with a bunch of other activities outside for the kids to participate in. And so when I retired, I came back to the school as a volunteer,

As a volunteer, he usually helps get rid of the leftover trees by bringing them to Tumamoc Hill to give away. That’s where people provide donations and write letters to the Hollinger K-8 students, thanking them for their hard work. This year, Mr. Steve decided to do things differently.

Every year since 2016, weve planted 400-500 trees, desert trees. But Im not involved in planting them. I just give them out to the community, but this year, we decided lets plant some trees in the neighborhood,’ he said.

He’s held several tree-planting days since January, which is an extension of his tree project, “Bosquieros de Hollinger.” He went door-to-door, asking neighborhood residents if they would like trees planted in their years. With the help of volunteers, they were able to plant around 30-40 trees in the Hollinger neighborhood.

Every little bit helps and its a step toward undoing anything people might have done where they may have been misinformed and cut down trees. To each its own, but were just out here doing this, whatever difference we can, however small it might be, said Luis Torres-Rodriguez, a parent volunteer.

Given the need for trees and shade in neighborhoods on the southside, Torres-Rodriguez shared the impact he hopes their work has on his community.

There are some places with a lot more trees per person, and unfortunately we find ourselves in the second situation. But to bring it 360, were here to see what difference we can make, he said.

The tree-planting with this project has wrapped up for Spring 2024, but Mr. Steve is excited to plant hundreds of more trees in August.