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 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 Mississippi Beautiful, Madison, MS

Cities today often operate on shoestring budgets, making the community improvement work of volunteer-based organizations like ours highly valuable. We plant trees, clean up litter, encourage recycling and enhance our surroundings – all efforts to improve the quality of life for Mississippians.

This year, as part of our Great American Cleanup State Kickoff, we worked with Keep Ridgeland Beautiful to transform a small park into a community resource.

Nestled in the historic McLaurin Heights neighborhood, Keep Ridgeland Beautiful board members discovered the park a few years ago and saw it as an opportunity for improvement by adding a picnic area, seating and improved recreation features. This cleanup helped Ridgeland take this park to the next level.

“We’re so thankful to all of the volunteers and partners who came together to make this project possible,” said Jan Richardson, chair of Keep Ridgeland Beautiful. “These upgrades to Midway Park are a blessing to the nearby neighborhood.”

One neighbor at the event told us, “I plan to keep an eye on this park and make sure its users keep it up.” It’s great to see how engaged the neighbors are.

During the cleanup, about 85 volunteers helped install grills, picnic tables, benches, trash, recycling receptacles and even a pergola. Students took the lead on building the pergola as part of a Technology Student Association construction challenge.

The basketball court was resurfaced leading up the cleanup, and volunteers striped new lines, cleaned backboards, put up new nets and added another goal. Volunteers also added wood chips to the park’s playground, where city employees installed to spring riders for young children.

We can’t forget our many volunteers with green thumbs. We spruced up the park with six new trees, dozens of shrubs and flowers, and fresh pine straw to enhance the aesthetics and soil of garden beds. They also picked up litter near the park, including a neighboring wooded area.

And finally, the park got an official sign, which will help ensure Ridgeland citizens know about this local place.

We’re thankful for the volunteers who gave their time and to our many sponsors who helped us make this work possible. Sponsors included: Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, Keep Ridgeland Beautiful, City of Ridgeland, Bulldog Construction Company, Bufkin Mechanical Inc., Waste Management, Ad Camp Inc., Southwest Distributors, Troy-Bilt, Brown Bottling Group, MMC, Colonial Heights Baptist Church, Audubon Homeowners Association, First Ridgeland Baptist Church, Mississippi Railroad Association and Ridgeland City Garden Club.

It’s amazing how we can improve and enhance places, like Midway Park, when working together. Projects like this one are happening across Mississippi as part of the Great American Cleanup, a nationwide clean sweep. More than 200 Great American Cleanups will happen in Mississippi from March to May. Let’s keep up the good work in keeping Mississippi beautiful!

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, Albany, GA

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful sponsored an elementary school Arbor Day Celebration with 450 students enjoying a Tree Education presentation by Dr. Kay Kirkman, Chairman of the City Tree Board. Partners included the City Tree Board, two DAR Chapters, The Woman’s Club & Master Gardeners. Our mission was through education and hands-on involvement to instill a vision of conservation, preservation and a knowledge-base for our students regarding the important role that trees play in our everyday lives. The students planted two large Live Oaks.

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, Albany, GA

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful celebrated Arbor Day as 33 volunteers planted 30, 15-gallon new trees in downtown Albany on Saturday, Feb. 21, as well as 13 Chinese Elms, 14 Crape Myrtles and three Eastern Redbuds, which now visually enhance the downtown urban canopy. Job Corps students, citizens at large, City Tree Board members, a County Commissioner and a City Commissioner participated in the event.

Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful, Inc., N.C.

On October 25, 2014, nearly 400 trees were planted by over 500 volunteers in the Belview neighborhood of Winston-Salem, N.C., during the annual Community Roots Day tree planting event, coordinated by Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful. This was the 22nd year for this event! This was done in an area that was in need of the reestablishment of the urban forest canopy. Volunteers came from virtually every socio-economic background from throughout the city. All volunteers were fed breakfast and lunch and received t-shirts and hats. Many sponsors helped make this event possible, including grants from the KAB/Lowe’s Community Partners Grant and the KAB/UPS Community Tree and Recovery Tree Planting Grant programs. It was a VERY successful event!!!

Montgomery Clean City Commission, AL

Montgomery Clean City Commission (MCCC) has been busy, busy, busy during the months of October and November working on preparations for the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Voting March. In March 2015, the eyes of the world will be on Montgomery, Ala., as the capital city celebrates this historic event. MCCC is doing everything in its power ensure Montgomery is looking good.

With the help of a KAB/Lowe’s Community Partners Grant, one of our projects was painting and roofing a home along historic Oak Street and providing the Loveless Community Center with a facelift. To further enhance the streetscape of Oak Street, the path the marchers took into Montgomery from the St. Jude’s campsite, 35 red bud trees have been planted along the street, also a component of the Lowe’s/KAB grant.

This work was done with the help of volunteers from all walks of life: students, military, community service workers, City of Montgomery employees, staff from House to House and members of Rebuilding Together. Just as the citizens of Montgomery are pulling together to celebrate this momentous event, the citizens of Montgomery pulled together to realize the dream of beautifying and uplifting this significant neighborhood.

Montgomery Clean City Commission is grateful for the help and inspiration provided by Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Keep Tyler Beautiful, Tyler, Texas

Working with urban foresters from the Texas A&M Forestry Service, City of Tyler Parks Maintenance crew members and Lowe’s, Keep Tyler Beautiful (KTyB) has created a community fruit orchard in the City of Tyler’s Woldert Park. Our goals and objectives of this project are to create a source for teaching community members how to grow fruit and nut trees. Once the trees are mature enough to bear fruit, we will invite members of the community to come into the orchard to pick the fruit while learning more about care and selection of fruit trees in their own yards.