SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A collaborative effort brought community members together today on the Eastside of Savannah.

The City of Savannah’s Office of Sustainability and other local partners, came together for a celebration with music, free food, and a giveaway of over 50 free fruit trees for Eastside citizens living within the following areas: East Broad Street, Waters Avenue, Wheaton Street, and East Anderson Street. People who attended the event said the trees were symbolic of local neighborhoods that are working together to focus on a unified community.

“I think it’s better to bring people together, especially nowadays because, you know, it’s so difficult here in the crime area,” Charles Elrison Jr., a resident on the Eastside stated.

Nick Deffley, the Director for Savannah’s Office of Sustainability said the city is focused on improving all parts of the community.

“The Eastside of Savannah is one of those communities that we really want to keep building their sense of pride in the community and so growing these trees from these small little samplings and watching them kind of bloom and blossom and bud out into something bigger that adds value for years and years to come is really poetic for their lives as well,” Deffley said.

The fruit trees were part of a $230,000 grant the Office of Sustainability received in 2018. It was given to help beautify the community and build-up the local urban tree canopies. City leaders said the collective-efforts extend beyond just the Eastside.

“I’m thinking how can we replicate this for every area of Savannah because then, and only then will you truly be bringing the community together; so not only are we focusing on your Savannah, my Savannah, but then we are focusing on our Savannah,” Post 1’s Alderwoman-at-Large Keisha Gibson-Carter relayed.

Community members picked out trees and placed them in handmade crates, painted by kids with “Loop It Up Savannah”—creating smiles from neighbors in an area that often sees a lot of crime. Gibson-Carter said the event’s celebration was “truly inspiring.”

“I think about Freddie Patrick, who poured so much of his heart and soul in this community. I think about all of his efforts, and to know that today is representative of those efforts not being in vain is really exciting, it’s encouraging and as an official of local government, we need that inspiration to know that what we are doing is the right thing and that we are on the right track,” Gibson-Carter stated.

Deffley said the city plans to continue their neighbor-to-neighbor focus: “The work that we do, and the Sustainability Office does, is really kind of one person at a time and we really just hope that, that ripples out from there.”