Volunteers show up for community cleanup

Apr. 23—Upwards of 500 volunteers helped beautify the community by filling dozens and dozens of garbage bags with trash over the weekend, Keep Milledgeville-Baldwin Beautiful (KMBB) officials say.

The revamped anti-litter advocacy organization KMBB helped organize a community cleanup to coincide with Earth Day as groups mobilized to make a clean sweep of the community on Saturday. The Georgia Military College Corps of Cadets carried its weight to comprise approximately half of the volunteer force. Candidates for local government office pitched in, as did civic organizations and college club groups to pick up trash both within the city limits and out in the county area.

"We're ecstatic," KMBB board chair Jeff Wells said. "It was very heartwarming to see that outpouring of support. We're seeing a groundswell of support in the community, and I think there are more and more people now saying we have to put our money where our mouth is if we want the litter problem stopped."

The GMC cadets alone turned in 40 bags of trash after targeting Caraker and Swint avenues on the south side, Memory Hill Cemetery (where an arrow took the title of strangest piece of trash found), East Franklin Street, Huley Park, Bone Cemetery, Walter B. Williams Jr. Park, downtown, and the Oconee River Greenway. The effort was part of the corps' annual community service project completed each spring. Wells said Col. Steve Pitt, commandant of cadets, approached earlier this school year to ask about partnering with KMBB for a clean-up. The organization, of course, obliged and with the help of several community partners provided lunch for the cadets once their work was completed Saturday.

Residents also got in on the action, picking up in areas near their homes or in places they saw that needed attention.

"Where we saw the biggest amount of trash was in the county," Wells said. "It's easier to litter out on the remote roads like Meriwether, Lowe, Corral, Nancy Branch, Kings, Stembridge and Lake Laurel. The likelihood of being seen littering in those places is a lot smaller than it is in the city."

For those not consciously heaving trash out their car windows, the KMBB board chair gave a couple of tips that everyone can do to help keep litter to a minimum.

"I think as a citizenry there are several things we can stop doing to kind of cut down a good bit on seeing so much trash in the streets," said Wells. "One is asking people to make sure the trash inside their herbie curbies is all bagged. We also want to urge citizens to stop putting trash in the back of their trucks that's not bagged. And if it is bagged, make sure it's weighted down or covered up. I don't think those are intentional litterers. I don't think we have a county full of criminals. I just think that people are not thinking their way through it."

To help with that, KMBB plans on continuing its campaign to educate the public about the effects of littering and how it can be stopped. The next phase is to include young people in those education efforts as the organization is about to start making inroads toward getting into the local schools. Wells added that another community cleanup day is in the works for the fall.