Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Madison, MS

More than 70 volunteers gathered June 6 to help Columbia, Mississippi, recover following a 2014 tornado. Thanks to a grant from Anheuser-Busch as well as the support of Southwest Distributors and many others, Keep Mississippi Beautiful held a community improvement day, where we worked with volunteers to plant trees and shrubs at Columbia’s landmark Woodlawn Cemetery.

An EF3 tornado struck Columbia and other southern Mississippi communities on Dec. 23, 2014, killing five people, injuring 50 people, and damaging many homes and businesses. Columbia is a historic town, and in addition to the loss of life and damage to property, many trees were knocked down, including many in the town’s cemetery.

Following the storm, many residents convened at Woodlawn Cemetery, where they found the 100-year-old trees that once shaded the cemetery now twisted and destroyed, and grave markers now toppled and buried. We wanted to help the town restore this place to its once peaceful state.

“It was heartwarming to know that people from across the state wanted to come and help our community recover,” said Rene Dungan, affiliate director for Keep Columbia/Marion County Beautiful. “We’re so thankful to our many local, state and national partners and the dedicated volunteers who made this day possible. This day got our town one step closer to recovering from the devastating tornado.”

The Keep America Beautiful/Anheuser-Busch Environmental Grant of $10,000 enabled us to purchase trees, shrubs and other landscaping materials, which were planted in the cemetery, including the cemetery’s two entrances. We were selected for the grant earlier this year to aid the town in its recovery.

“When we learned of this grant opportunity through Anheuser-Busch, we actively sought it for Columbia, knowing that funds would help this town replant many of the gorgeous trees that were lost,” said Stephanie Hutchins, chair of KMB’s board of directors and vice president of Southwest Distributors. “This grant opportunity is making a difference across the country, including right here in Mississippi in Columbia.”

Volunteers from across the state came to help, including Keep Mississippi Beautiful board members, Southwest Distributors employees and Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant. Despite the heat, volunteers worked a long, hard day, proud of their contribution to the town’s cemetery. Additionally, Mississippi Power employees volunteered the day before the event, completing the preparation work for the event.

Partners included the city of Columbia, Marion County Development Partnership, Keep Columbia/Marion County Beautiful, Southwest Distributors, Anheuser-Busch, Mississippi Power and many others.

We’re so grateful for all of our volunteers and partners who made this improvement day possible. We know that when we come together and work to help one another, we can accomplish so much more.

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Reno, NV

Record number of invasive weeds, abandoned cars removed; more than 600 residents turn out to clean up Truckee Meadows

More than 600 Washoe County residents came out Saturday to clean up illegal dump sites and invasive weeds at 18 sites during Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s Great Community Cleanup. Volunteers removed 74 tons of trash, 33 tons of invasive weeds and almost 600 tires for a cleanup total of 123 tons. Volunteers also removed graffiti, painted and wrapped trees.

“We had perfect weather this year,” said Jaime Souza, program manager of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB). “Our volunteers pulled and dug a record number of invasive weeds – great news in this dry year.”

Those weeds will be composted for the first time this year, and next week – during International Compost Awareness Week, KTMB staff will be collecting compost and delivering it to schools and other area garden projects. This addition to KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup is made possible by a Keep America Beautiful/Waste Management Think Green grant and a partnership with RT Donovan.

Another record was set this year: The Nevada National Guard removed 18 abandoned cars from the Hunter and Alum creek areas.

“The number of cars just kept increasing,” Souza said. “We started with 15, were up to 17 this morning, and then the helicopter crews found another while they were doing their training. The ground crews did a little scrambling and managed to get the extra one as well. They were so well prepared, and really wanted to do a thorough job. We were so glad to help with the project, and couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

Here are the stats for KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup. Trash: 74.47 tons; Weeds: 33.4 tons; Cars: 18; Tires: 595

KTMB volunteers are individuals, families and groups from all over the community, including the event sponsor, Intuit, and all the event partners like the Truckee River Fund, Barrick Gold Corporation, NV Energy Foundation, OrangeTree Productions, REI, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Waste Management, cities of Reno and Sparks, Sun Valley General Improvement District, Washoe County, Washoe County Health District, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup began in 2006 as a part of a community-based effort to preserve the natural beauty of local recreation areas and remove the dangers to people and wildlife associated with illegal dump sites and invasive weeds. For a map of 2015 cleanup sites, before and after photos, video and more, visit ktmb.org/events/ktmbs-great-community-cleanup/.

All KTMB programs are geared toward educating the public about the economic and health hazards of litter and illegal dumping; reducing our waste; eliminating trash from our parks, roadways and open spaces; making our community a beautiful and safe place to live; and giving opportunities for residents and businesses to take pride and ownership in their home. Residents can get involved by visiting ktmb.org.

Keep Troy Beautiful, Troy, AL

Between April 1 and May 31, 2015, Keep Troy Beautiful from Troy neighborhoods, businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals joined together to pick up the litter in our community. Our 2nd Annual “Team Up to Clean Up” campaign has come to a close. We had 13 teams participate this year for a total of more than 182 volunteers and 44+ bags of litter removed from our city! We also planted 12 trees as part of the College Street Historic District’s event.

The teams included Troy Airport ATC Unit, Chi Omega, First National Bank, Cubscout Pack 41, James Buchanan, Alpha Gamma Delta, Phi Mu, College Street Historic District, TRMC, The Pointe at Troy, Pack 41 Tiger Cubs, Transformation Church, and Troy Women’s Basketball Team.

Locations include Bicentennial Park, Park Street, Elm Street, Downtown, Academy Street, Prospect Ridge, Braswell St, Trojan Way, Orion Street, Gibbs Street, TRMC, W. College Street, W. Walnut Street, Murphree Street, Pine Street, and the Recreation Center Walking Trail and Miracle League Playground. The winner of the $100 TB&T Visa gift card was Logan Gann of Alpha Gamma Delta.

Keep East Point Beautiful, East Point, GA

Keep East Point Beautiful,working with East Point Parks Services and P.A.T.C.H. (Progressive Action for Transforming City Habitat), planted two small orchards as a result on a grant received from the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation. The project’s dual purpose is to plant trees for environmental benefit while providing a source of free, local food.

Planting of the trees for the Community Orchard took place on Sunday, Feb. 22. Some 20 volunteers came together to plant trees at the Historical Society and River Park . Thirty trees have been planted to date. Volunteer included KEPB board members, the community and P.A.T.C.H.

Keep Alachua County Beautiful, Gainesville, FL

The highlight of our cleanup this year was the two-day cleanup of the homeless camp, known as “Tent City.” Keep Alachua County Beautiful targeted the cleanup of a former homeless camp this spring. This project, a part of the Great American Cleanup, was completed on two consecutive Saturdays, March 21 and 28, and involved approximately 500 University of Florida fraternity members in the removal of more than 60 tons of trash.

The nearly five-acre site, referred to as “Tent City,” was occupied by as many as 172 people at a time for a period of 20 years. Situated along a popular rail-trail, two private landowners tolerated the occupation of these wooded parcels in anticipation of the opening of an expanded center serving the homeless, Grace Marketplace in 2014.

With no sanitation services, this once beautiful property along the Sweetwater Branch Creek festered with ankle-deep trash, tattered tents, and heaps of discarded clothing. This section of rail-trail, at the confluence of the Gainesville-Hawthorn Trail and the Downtown Connector bicycle and walking trails, features live oaks, water oaks, holly trees, pines and too numerous shrubs to list. Wildlife including hawks, tortoises and foxes thrive here despite the years of despoliation. Keep Alachua County Beautiful sought to heal this open wound that had resulted from years of neglect and primitive camping. Since the property borders a prime recreational asset and eco-tourism attraction in our county — the trail follows the north rim of Paynes Prairie State Park — Keep Alachua County Beautiful felt it was imperative that this property not remain as tourists’ impression of Alachua County.

Using 297 fraternity volunteers on the first Saturday and nearly 200 fraternity members on the second Saturday, plus another 100 volunteers from the community, Keep Alachua County Beautiful was able to remove more than 60 tons of trash. Alachua County provided deferment of the tipping fees for the garbage and the City of Gainesville Solid Waste Division provided a supervisor and arranged for the City and County curbside collection hauler to provide roll-off containers and carts. Lowe’s allowed for the purchase of the gloves and pitchforks at a discounted price and facilitated the receipt of a pallet of water from Niagara for the volunteers. Domino’s Pizza provided lunch for the volunteers.

Keep Cass County Beautiful, Louisville, NE

These Louisville girl scouts are plenty busy! Besides winning the Girl Scouts’ “Spirit of Nebraska – Bling Your Cookie Booth” top award, the girls from Troop 20564 volunteered their time to help plant flowers. At their last meeting of the spring, 25 Girl Scouts and their leaders helped plant about 600 annual flowers at the Louisville Senior Center and the Louisville City Park as part of a Great American Cleanup and service project. Great Job, girls!

Keep Bartow Beautiful, Cartersville, GA

On May 11, 2015, Euharlee Elementary School received the Grand Prize for winning Keep Bartow Beautiful’s Ninth Annual School Recycling Contest. A well-known North Georgia Professional Wildlife and Animal Education Company, Wildlife Wonders, presented a school-wide program for the students. Euharlee collected 80,060 pounds of mixed paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles to win the prize, or 135.2 pounds per student for the 592 students. Winners were awarded $4,000 worth of prizes in three divisions. This year, 26 schools/school facilities recycled 423,080 pounds of cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, and mixed paper.

The contest began with eight schools and the support of Anheuser-Busch Recycling and the Cartersville Anheuser-Busch Brewery, with the local operation providing ongoing support. The results have been astonishing — over 2,000 tons of recyclable materials have been recovered voluntarily through Bartow County, the City of Cartersville, and Excel Academy schools through voluntary teams of teachers, students, parents and staff, with the support of Bartow County Solid Waste.

Tom Bennett of Wildlife Wonders wows the crowd with an albino boa constrictor. Bennett explains to the students how they help protect wildlife habitat, such as jungles, forests, rivers and regions mined for minerals, when they recycle.

Keep Charleston Beautiful, Charleston, SC

Waste Management Think Green Grant – “Where Does Waste Go?” Field Trips!

Keep Charleston Beautiful (KCB) , Charleston County Environmental Management, and Charleston County School District teamed up for the 2014/2015 Keep America Beautiful/Waste Management Think Green Grant to provide free field trips for local schools to the area’s recycling center and landfill/compost facility. School transportation was paid for using grant funds and Charleston County provided free tours upon arrival. Charleston County School District promoted the grant through emails and website posts.

KCB was thrilled to received applications for the free trips from 23 different schools, 12 of which are Title I schools. Nineteen schools went on the trips using grant-provided funds. Thirteen teachers responded to the follow-up survey: nine indicated they would not have been able to send their students on these field trips without the Think Green Grant; two teachers said they possibly could have but likely not; two said they would have gone without grant funds.

The Think Green Grant also provided KCB with the opportunity to print customized posters featuring real students inspiring other students. The posters are provided for free to all schools in Charleston.

The KAB/Waste Management Think Green Grant provided over 1,200 local students with the opportunity to learn where their waste goes. THANK YOU!