Natalie Zimmerman, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and member of the cheer team, tosses out a dead Christmas tree as part of a fundraiser for the team during 2019. (Natalie Zimmerman | Courtesy photo)

Natalie Zimmerman, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and member of the cheer team, tosses out a dead Christmas tree as part of a fundraiser for the team during 2019. (Natalie Zimmerman | Courtesy photo)

Win-win: JDHS cheerleading team to recycle trees to fundraise

Money will help them travel to competitions and equip the team

As the holidays draw to a chilly close, at least one group of people hopes to benefit from the wave of suddenly but unsurprisingly surplus Christmas trees.

“This fundraiser is to help raise money,” said Natalie Zimmerman, a Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior and member of the team during a phone interview. “We’re traveling to California this year. We’re also traveling to state (championships). We’re also getting new uniforms.”

Members of the team will pick up dead trees for a small fee and drop them off at the recycling center on the next two Saturdays. Zimmerman said the team has held the fundraiser for the last several years, since 2017.

”It pays for hotels and airfare and that kind of stuff,” Zimmerman said. “Last summer we went to a UCA (Universal Cheerleading Association) camp and we had to fundraise for that.”

Zimmerman said the teams raised more than $21,000 last year for travel and team expenses, and will need to raise more this year.

“We don’t get any funds from the school, and we have to sell trees and do raffles and do our own fundraising,” Zimmerman said. “We really appreciate the support from the community.”

The school pays for coaches and officials, but not for travel or lodging at competitions or camps.

Dylan Vernon, a student at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and member of the cheer team, collects a dead Christmas tree as part of a fundraiser for the team during 2019. (Natalie Zimmerman | Courtesy photo)

Dylan Vernon, a student at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and member of the cheer team, collects a dead Christmas tree as part of a fundraiser for the team during 2019. (Natalie Zimmerman | Courtesy photo)

The cheer team often travels with the basketball team, which will be competing soon here in Juneau in the regional conference. If JDHS makes it to the state basketball tournament, Zimmerman said, the cheer team will stick around after their own tournament to cheer them on. The JDHS cheer team has done well, winning their division or the state competition outright for two out of the last three championships.

While the tree removal isn’t a major money-maker for the team, Zimmerman said, it does generate goodwill within the community, which helps.

Got a tree to get rid of?

To offload your Christmas tree, call or text (907)723-6580. Pickups will be on Jan. 4 and 11 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost is $10, payable by cash or check made out to JDHS Cheer, either in an envelope or handed over in person.

“We ask that all decorations are taken off and it’s left in the front yard or driveway,” Zimmerman said. “We usually do really well on the second weekend that we do it because people are ready to take down their Christmas decorations.”


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.