People & Places

The Bright Side: Dad and sons deliver free firewood in ‘wood for good’ project

Eric Axelrod and his sons Logan, 10, left, and Devin, 13, split and stack wood in Jericho on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The father and son team give firewood away to those in need as part of their Wood for Good program. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Eric Axelrod used to go to the gym every day, but with gyms closing in the time of Covid-19, he cut that out of his daily routine. 

Instead, he chops wood.

For the past six months, Axelrod has spent at least an hour a day — usually with the help of his two young sons, Devin and Logan  — chopping, splitting, carrying and delivering firewood, for free, to anyone who could use it to heat their homes this winter.

Axelrod, who lives in Jericho, has always cut firewood, but usually just a relatively small amount for his own home. Last winter, though, Axelrod realized he had more firewood than he needed, so he went on Front Porch Forum and asked if anyone in town could use the extra — and right off the bat, he had takers.

A few months later, when Covid-19 hit Vermont, Axelrod realized he might be able to do more than just donate the wood he already had lying around. So, during quarantine, Axelrod and his sons decided to start chopping wood in earnest, and delivering it to anyone who might need it.

“The boys stay away from the business end of the equipment we’re using — it’s obviously very dangerous stuff — but they definitely contribute in terms of moving wood and helping to load and unload the truck,” he said.

So far, they’ve chopped nearly 25 cords of wood — a cord is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet — and have made deliveries to more than 15 families, some even multiple times. Next year, Axelrod said, their goal is to double what they did this year, and hit up to 50 cords of wood.

Axelrod said Devin, 13, and Logan,10, were not super-enthusiastic at first about the project, but as they began delivering wood to families in need, Devin realized that he really liked the project and wanted to see it through, Axelrod said. After a while, Logan came around to it, too.

“When we deliver wood, we see people smile, really truly smile, and we see we gave them that smile,” Devin said.

“It’s still a lot of work for a 10-year-old, but Devin said to me, I want to do this as much as we can, so that’s what we do,” Axelrod said. 

The Axelrods call the project “Wood for Good.”

“When we delivered our first load, we had a piece of wood that looked like it had a smiley face on it, and that became the impetus for the name ‘Wood for Good,’” Axelrod said.

Devin Axelrod stacks wood in Jericho on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Wood for Good, which donates firewood to those in need, is a family affair with his father Eric and brother Logan. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

They delivered wood to a website designer in Montpelier, who’s now working on designing a Wood for Good website, Axelrod said, so they can take their smiley-face-firewood logo to the next level.

The goal is to turn the project into a nonprofit organization. Axelrod said he started a GoFundMe drive a few months ago to help buy a second wood splitter, so more people could be working on turning out split firewood at once, but while the GoFundMe was live, someone just donated the wood splitter he needed. 

“We raised a bunch of money before that happened, so we’re going to take those funds and use them for a log-loader conveyor,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod said he recently bought a dump truck to make the loading and unloading a little easier. 

Though the project started small, Axelrod said it has picked up a pretty good following around town, and a whole team of people has been helping with the project.

Some people have felled trees in their backyard and donated the wood to the cause, while others had fully chopped wood and invited the Axelrods to find it a new home. During the summer, Axelrod said, people started donating money, which he uses to buy trees, or tools to turn those trees into firewood.

A nearby farm donated the use of its land, so the Axelrods — who live in a suburban area in Jericho — can store large quantities of wood somewhere other than their backyard.

“The opportunity to give back and help people is something I’ve always wanted to find a path in,” Axelrod said. “And I feel that this is a great thing that isn’t really being covered by social services. They give people money for gas and propane, but not really firewood. And once we started doing it, it just felt right.”

Axelrod said some wood still needs to be unloaded before winter arrives, but looking ahead, he hopes to beef up his roster of houses that need firewood.

“We haven’t been able to consistently get enough people to give wood away to,” he said. “You don’t have to fit a criteria, but if you feel like you could use this, ask us, and we’ll bring you a load.”

Logan Axelrod and his father Eric split wood in Jericho on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Wood for Good, which donates firewood to those in need, is a family affair with Logan’s brother Devin. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Ellie French

About Ellie

Ellie French is a general assignment reporter and news assistant for VTDigger. She is a recent graduate of Boston University, where she interned for the Boston Business Journal and served as the editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press, BU’s student newspaper. She is originally from Duluth, Minnesota.

Email: [email protected]

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