We Need A Vacuum

By: Claire Tribble

Last week, First Methodist Church of Athens held their Vacation Bible School. The class of older children, 5th going to 6th graders, goes to different organizations to volunteer. We were very fortunate that they chose to work with Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful for one of their service days. We love working with youth groups like this, because this is the age when our lessons really sink in.

This group of 21 kids and their 4 leaders met us at Golden Eagle Drive. We only had about an hour to work, so we focused on the area behind Dollar General, Jack’s, and Waffle House. In less than an hour, they filled EIGHT bags. According to Keep Alabama Beautiful, the average weight of a bag of litter is 20 pounds — that’s somewhere around 160 pounds of litter removed from a very small area. We didn’t go any farther than Waffle House or get close to Highway 31, so you can picture the size of the area we worked in. The sad part is, because of time restraints, we didn’t even come close to picking up all the trash in that spot.

We picked up countless cigarette butts in the parking lots. We didn’t even come close to getting them all. One of the volunteer leaders even made the comment that you almost needed a vacuum cleaner to get up all the butts. I got tickled when he said this because I had just started looking at Billy Goat Litter Vacuums to collect cigarette butts and smaller pieces of litter after events. Seems like we may need one just to get parking lots too. Most people don’t realize that cigarette butts never break down, so once you toss them out the window, they are on the ground to stay.

These kids not only worked quickly, but they were in the hot, Alabama sunshine the whole time. They had already talked their youth director, Brandon Starnes, into buying them some well-deserved ice cream when the manager from Jack’s came out to see who we were and what we were doing. As a thank you, he offered a discount on ice cream and drinks when they finished. While just a “thank you” would have been plenty, it’s great to see the kids be rewarded for their work, and we appreciate it!

Even though we love our youth cleanups, we know the best cleanup is the one that never had to happen. So, stop by the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful office and grab a litter bag for your car and a car ashtray, or pocket ashtray if you need them. If you know someone who will use them, come get some for them! If you have a group (youth or adult) that’s interested in having a cleanup, give us a call or send us an email, we’d love to work with you and cleanup Athens and Limestone at the same time.

By: Claire Tribble – Executive Director, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful