Planting a tree

750 trees distributed during Onalaska community event

On October 8, four SageSure employees and three producer partners from Integra joined forces with the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery Program and distributed more than 750 trees to the community in Onalaska, Texas, devastated by a tornado in 2020.

This effort was the direct result of an initiative launched earlier this year. For each policyholder who enrolled in the paperless option, SageSure contributed $1 to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery Program. During the first half of this campaign, 27,000 policyholders supported the Onalaska distribution event through paperless enrollment.

In just a few hours on the day of the event, 600 trees were distributed directly to residents to plant at their homes; the remaining 150 went to Boy Scouts and 4H groups for planting in shared neighborhood greenspaces to replace the more than 5,000 trees destroyed by a tornado.

“The tornado decided to take a bunch out,” said Ron Detrick, co-president of Piney Wood Lakes, Master Naturalist, who helped organize the event. “So, we’re trying to put nature back together. I don’t think we’re going to replace 5,000, but we’ll make a dent in it.”

Thanks to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery Program, homeowners coping with loss from a natural disaster can receive new trees at no expense. One couple who received trees at the Onalaska event lost more than 35 on their property alone.

For Holly Howard, a SageSure partner at Integra Insurance in Huntington, Texas, who helped with the distribution, trees were a big part of her upbringing. Her dad, who she calls the most influential person in her life, was a forester. “I think tree planting is so important,” she said. “Where we live in East Texas, the trees and the forest have been a big part of the industry.”

Beyond the forestry industry, trees are credited for boosting mental health and raising physical health and improving the environment. Over the next 40 years, the trees distributed at the Onalaska event are projected to have the following environmental impacts: 670,051 gallons of stormwater runoff avoided, 1,490 metric tons of net carbon dioxide sequestered and 3.5 tons of air pollution removed. Trees are also aesthetically pleasing.

Arbor Day Infographic

“After the tornado that came through in 2020, you see a lot of folks have no shade anymore — they lost the beauty of their property,” said Matthew Garrison of the Texas A&M Forest Service. “In this type of program, where we can get some trees into folks’ hands that they may not have been able to purchase themselves or acquire elsewise, we can sort of get them back on their feet and let them make their property what it once was.”

There’s still time to have an impact. The paperless enrollment campaign will run through the end of this year and support another tree distribution event in the spring. On March 12 in Wilmington, North Carolina, SageSure associates and partners, with the support of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery Program, will distribute trees to the community ravaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018. If you’re a SageSure policyholder, be sure to log in to and enroll.