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From March to May, thousands of volunteers came together in dozens of communities across Texas for the 2016 Great American Cleanup. This year, many of our volunteers were especially inspired to lend a hand as many communities have recently dealt with severe weather events. The environmental impact of these storms has put an untold strain on many city departments, with debris from houses, trees, and other sources cluttering waterways, public spaces, and roadways. In Rowlett, which was devastated by a tornado on Dec. 26, thousands of volunteers have streamed into the city to support relief efforts. During this year’s Great American Cleanup, Keep Rowlett Beautiful organized teams to collect debris and litter from parks, waterways, and roads. In Wimberley, which was hardest hit by last year’s Memorial Day floods in central Texas, teams of volunteers found roofing tiles, pieces of drywall, doors, and other building materials in streams and near the calm Blanco River, which was a raging monster only one year ago. Finding pieces of damaged and destroyed homes is a somber reminder of these tragedies, but the spirit of these committed volunteers is a suggestion that our brightest days are yet to come. In Texas, the 2016 Great American Cleanup served to assure us all that, when communities come together, there is rarely an obstacle that they cannot overcome.

Keep Texas Beautiful, Austin, TX

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Keep Jackson Beautiful received 20 donated fruit trees from the Mississippi Urban Forest Council and the Mississippi Forestry Commission and was awarded a grant of $3,500 from Entergy to build a community orchard at Rosemont M. B. Church in southwest Jackson. The orchard is being grown with permaculture techniques that support it in natural ways. Fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and herbs are planted on berms next to a swale. The swales will collect water from the rain and hold it. The roots of the trees will reach the water from their raised position on the berms. The surface of the ground will be covered with clover, herbs and perennial pollinator plants.The orchard will be an organic food source for the entire community for many years to come. On the first work day in early April, Entergy employees volunteered and brought lots of tools as well. The Purple Diamonds Dance Team also volunteered, and many community residents participated as well. The volunteers hauled soil, planted trees, blueberry bushes, herbs, and clover seeds. The youngest volunteers painted clay pots and small stones to add color to the orchard. Pastor Jimmie Edwards of Rosemont M.B. Church worked as hard as anyone with his tractor and the orchard was well underway. On a second work day in May, volunteers added wood chips and pollinator perennial plants as well. The church also has a raised vegetable garden area next to the orchard. Both areas will work together to provide a very healthy assortment of food for the surrounding community. The orchard will be enlarged in the fall to include more of the five acres available at the church, thanks to an additional $5,000 Keep America Beautiful/UPS Community Tree Planting Grant. Keep Jackson Beautiful wishes to thank all of its sponsors for their generous support in making this orchard possible, and thank all the volunteers who participated in this wonderful community project. To learn more about KJB projects, or to volunteer, you may go to keepjacksonbeautiful.com, or contact Alicia Crudup at keepjacksonbeautiful@gmail.com, 601-953-1123. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Keep Jackson Beautiful, Jackson, MS

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Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper had more than 1,200 volunteers removing 12 tons of litter and debris from the shorelines of the the Niagara River Watershed as part of the 2016 Spring Shoreline Sweep on April 23 in western New York. The cleanup event is designed to prevent litter from entering the watershed's waterways and beautify its shorelines before the start of summer.  

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Buffalo, NY

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The La Porte County Solid Waste District’s fifth annual Clean It Up Day was a huge success again this year, with hundreds of volunteers participating in 38 cleanups countywide! In Michigan City alone, volunteers collected 200 bags of trash in areas including Meijer Drive, Highway 12, Pahs Road, Karwick Road and Hitchcock Road. Another two truckloads of litter was also removed from La Porte’s downtown, parks and neighborhoods, as well as county roads in surrounding areas. “Despite the rain, we still had around 350 people go out in their communities to clean them up and make them better places to live and play,” said Alicia Ebaugh, district education and public outreach coordinator. “The goal of this event is to heighten awareness of La Porte County’s litter problem, and I think it’s working.” The La Porte County Solid Waste District wants to recognize their volunteer groups: Michigan City High School, Krueger Middle School, The North Face staff, Crystal Castro and family, Fifth Ward Councilperson Sharon Carnes and family, At-Large Councilperson Don Przybylinski and family, Evergreen Baptist Church’s youth group, Michigan City North End Advocacy Team, Not 2 Young 2 Work, Elston Grove Neighborhood Association, the Greater MC GOP Club, Nora Schultz, Tracey Pollock and family, Samantha Chapala and family, Sue and Louie Almanza, Jane Neulieb and all Long Beach volunteers, Charmaine Tompkins and family, Levi’s and Verizon staff, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ youth group, Patricia Howard and family, Michelle Basta, Andi Jahnz-Davis, Mark Dever, Alcoa, American Licorice, Agape Christian Church, Northwest Chapter of the Indiana Environmental Health Association, Rolling Prairie Business and Community Association, LC Sacred Heart Apostolic School, the Scipio Sensations 4-H Club, Terra Verde Garden Club, the Kiwanis Club of La Porte, Sean McKiel and family, Blake McKiel and family, Tim Vaughan and the Stock family, Ashley Wisnieski and friends, Lora and Paul Brooks, Donna and Byron Marben, Sheryl Bede and family, Connie Justice, Phil Liverman, Nina Rogowski and Girl Scout troops led by Deb Gordon, Jessica Duch, Pamela Stanfield, Kim Zapala and Kristin Nunez. Our generous local donors and sponsors were Domino's Pizza of Michigan City, Washington Park Zoo, Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department, Michigan City Refuse Department, Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce, La Porte Park and Recreation Department, Wana Pizza, Michigan City Fifth Ward Councilperson Sharon Carnes, Family Express, Waste Management, Republic Services, Phart’s Phat Macs and Custom Cakes, Momma Sue’s Cafeteria and Catering, Overboard at the Marina, Arturo’s Baked Goods and More, Nora Schultz, Yacht Brite Detailing, and AIM Water. Finally, many thanks to Great American Cleanup 2016 sponsors Glad, Lowe's, Altria, BNSF and Dow. We couldn’t have done this without them!

La Porte County Solid Waste District, La Porte, IN

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“We gain a lot of ground when we both give a little, ain’t no road too long when you Meet in the Middle.” -Diamond Rio Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission (KMBBC) and Keep Warner Robins Beautiful (KWRB) launched the nationwide Great American Cleanup by hosting “Meet in the Middle,” a collaborative effort to clean Highway 247. The connecting state roadway is the daily route for more than 25,000 residents and visitors of Bibb and Houston Counties. KMMBC and KWRB were pleased when an estimated 75 volunteers attended a ceremony to kick off the program. Mayors Robert Reichert and Randy Toms welcomed volunteers and expressed appreciation to teams for their willingness to support beautification and litter eradication efforts. Guest speaker Sarah Visser, Executive Director of Keep Georgia Beautiful, commended the “… ground breaking and monumental efforts of neighboring communities willing to work together to help Keep Georgia Beautiful.” Following the ceremony, volunteers joined 29 teams and spent the day removing litter and debris from medians, roadways, bridges, and ditches along Highway 247. KMBBC and KWRB are proud to announce that 234 citizens from governments, corporations, businesses, organizations, and schools provided 729 hours to remove more than three tons of trash. Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, and GEICO provided corporate sponsorship; Advanced Disposal, Bibb and Houston County Law Enforcement Agencies, Choice Premiums, Macon Parks & Beautification, and Solid Waste Management provided services and in-kind support. WMGT Channel 41 and The Telegraph newspaper helped publicize the event. The purpose of this nationwide endeavor is to engage citizens to take pride in clean and beautiful surroundings. Locally, two communities joined forces to help residents and visitors enjoy a cleaner, safer, and more beautiful commute.

Keep Macon-Bibb/Warner Robins Beautiful, GA

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