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 Highway Park Beautiful, Lake Placid, FL

Thanks to eight months of hard work of many volunteers and grants from Keep America Beautiful, Lowe’s and Dow, the grand opening of of Keep Highway Park Beautiful’s Village Green Community Park & Resource Center took place on Saturday, May 2, in Lake Placid, Fla. The event coincided with the Great American Cleanup and FDOT-Keep Our Paradise Litter Free DIH Trash Off. Though work continues, what was once an eyesore to the community is now a nice park, which includes a facility to serve as a small community center.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful, Phoenix, AZ

Keep Phoenix Beautiful hosted their annual Corporate Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 28! Seven corporate volunteer groups completed volunteer projects all across Phoenix, Arizona. Groups included Henkel, Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, Coca-Cola, University of Phoenix, CSL Plasma, and Crown Castle. Project sites were comprised of various city parks and nonprofits. Volunteers planted, cleaned up community gardens, painted, created gardens, clean up water ways, and picked up litter.

Corporate Volunteer groups are competing for bragging rights and to have the Corporate Challenge Traveling Trophy for the next year! The winner will be announced March 12 at the annual Keep Phoenix Beautiful Awards Reception!

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!!!

Keep Virginia Beautiful, Richmond, VA

Keep Virginia Beautiful’s inaugural Shiver in the River, which took place on Jan. 31, was an enormous success.

This past Saturday, when it was just a smidge under 42 degrees and the James River was running a cool crisp 37.8, around 400 people showed up to Give 60 and help KVB do a cleanup. The northern bank of the James around Tredegar Iron Works hadn’t looked this good in a long time. With so many volunteers showing up, KVB split off almost 75 brothers from the University of Richmond’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon to head over to Pony Pasture for an auxiliary cleanup. These young men collected 10 pretty decent-sized bags of recyclables and 10 decent-sized bags of trash.

After the Cleanup, 150 hearty and crazy souls stripped down to Speedos, vintage suits, and costumes to wade through chest-deep water, give a shout-out to Richmond Fire & Rescue, and scramble back across and up the shore. Big hugs to the guys and gals at RF&R for being there with their boats. They didn’t save any lives, but they were lifesavers. Our James River Jumpers then shivered over to the heated tent where they enjoyed delicious BBQ and dumplings from Lunch/Supper skipper Rick Lyons.

There were a few take-aways from the Shiver in the River. First is that our job (and by that we mean all of us) is never done. Pony Pasture is one of the most popular spots along the James in Richmond, and it was obviously in need of care. Same goes for the areas around Tredegar. Second is that we need to do a better job of spreading our message. One of our main goals with the Shiver was to raise funds to do that. And we still need your help. As a nonprofit, we only exist because of your donations of time and money. Lastly, we realized that acting crazy to help keep Virginia beautiful can be a blast. We didn’t expect as many people to show up as did, and really appreciate that. So, our Second Annual Shiver in the River is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Just saying.

If you’d like to be a part of planning this wacky thing next year, head over to our Make a Difference page, click “Education/Other,” and tell us you want to be a part of the Shiver crew.

Those of you who played with us this year – You Rock.

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.