When Felipe Moreno learned there was a volunteer tree planting event at a local park in their neighborhood of South Gate, he jumped at the chance to make it a family affair with his wife and 8- and 3-year-old sons.

So with shovels and gardening gloves in hand, the Moreno family joined more than 200 volunteer families at a recent Amigos de los Rios community event to plant 150 trees donated by Southern California Edison (SCE).

“This is a way to help the community as a family,” said Moreno, who along with his family helped plant two trees at Hollydale Park. “My kids will grow up being able to say I helped plant this [tree] and bring their kids to see it.”

Joining the SCE employees to plant the trees were volunteers from the local Boys and Girls Club of America, Kiwanis Club, and high school groups and community soccer leagues who use the park as their primary playground.

The tree planting event is part of the nonprofit Amigos de los Rios’ efforts to protect and restore green spaces such as parks and trails. In 2005, the group introduced the Emerald Necklace Vision Plan to help develop a 17-mile loop of parks and green-ways connecting 10 cities and nearly 500,000 residents along the Río Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers watershed areas located in East Los Angeles County.

To achieve their goal of restoring open spaces, Amigos de los Rios often partners with corporate sponsors such as Edison International and its subsidiary SCE.

“SCE has been a key partner with us for 10 years, helping us with our vision of the Emerald Necklace Plan and why tree planting is critical,” said Amigos de los Rios Vice President Carlo Mendoza. 

"SCE is committed to the environment and to the communities we serve,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “These trees will help the environment, re-beautify the park and benefit this community."

The city of South Gate and its parks have about 3,000 trees. The lifespan for most of the trees is between 30 to 40 years, so the city is constantly replacing them, said Paul Adams, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of South Gate

“We try to replace 10 percent of our trees every five years,” he said. “That’s about 300 new trees so events like this where you plant 150 trees really make a difference.”

Antonio Flores and his family regularly visit Hollydale Park, but often can’t find enough shaded areas during the hot summer months. He’s hoping that by planting these new trees, future visits will be more comfortable for everyone. 

“This is the first time we have volunteered and we are enjoying it,” said Alejandra Lopez, the mother of one of the girls who plays in a soccer team at the park. “We’re not only helping improve the park, but also helping the environment.”

SCE’s trees are grown at its Auberry Tree Farm near Shaver Lake. For more information about Amigos de los Rios and additional tree planting work parties, visit: www.amigosdelosrios.org/calendar-of-upcoming-events/.