MOUNT CARMEL - Christmas trees have a short shelf life.

Revered and celebrated for much of December, come the New Year, they're undecorated and discarded, tossed curbside or on the back of a pickup truck to be disposed of for good.

After the borough announced it would not collect and dispose of Christmas trees this past holiday season, a group of volunteers decided to give one last gift to their neighbors in Mount Carmel - they'd pick up where the borough left off and trash the trees at no cost.

Upward of 400 trees were collected and chipped Saturday by volunteers as part of a community project organized by the budding Project MCA Cleanup.

After helping unload a trailer full of trees, Jason Bower, Project MCA Cleanup founder, said, "There's actually a lot more (trees) than I thought. A lot more."

Between 15 and 20 volunteers participated on a warm and sunny January Saturday.

They met in the Boyer's Food Mart parking lot, hopped into five pickup trucks, two of which were towing trailers, and headed off to different sections of the borough.

From one street to the next, they plucked trees lying on the curb, filled the truck beds or trailers and drove them to the soccer fields east of Mount Carmel. Some trees were popping up in spots volunteers had already passed after residents apparently saw the collection was occurring and hurried to have their tree hauled off.

Eddie Dormer and Teodor Staykov, both 18, were waiting to help unload the trees and assist an anonymous donor who brought his chipper to mulch the trees.

"I have to do my senior project," said Staykov, a Mount Carmel Area student, before nodding toward Dormer, "and so does he."

"Plus, we like to help the community," Dormer added.

Bower, 35, said he worked with both a high school teacher and the county juvenile probation department to allow youths to help out.

Michael Bonner and Michael Leaveck, both 18, were also volunteering for their senior projects. After unloading trees from a pickup he was driving, Bonner said, "It's kind of fun, actually."

"These little kids were like, 'oh, thank you for taking our tree,' " Bonner said while doing a childlike impersonation.

The kids weren't the only ones who gave thanks. Several adults waved at volunteers or shouted a thank you. A few pitched in a $5 bill here and there.

"There's still some good people around here," volunteer Sam Morose, 35, of Mount Carmel, said after being handed $5.

"I'm glad to see people appreciate we're doing this," Bower said.

Project MCA Cleanup is a community volunteer group. In November, volunteers from the group conducted a leaf cleanup. Bower hopes to make the organization a nonprofit group.