On Nov. 14, 2014, we hosted America Recycles Day at Clinton Park School. We challenged the first grade class to a week-long competition to see who could collect the most recyclables. Throughout the week, teachers and students discussed the importance of recycling and the impact it has on a community. The winning class received a $100 donation from Keep Mississippi Beautiful. On the last day of the contest, city officials, Keep Mississippi Beautiful representatives, and Waste Management representatives gathered with 400 first graders to speak about and encourage them to continue their efforts at school, home, in the community, and to commit to recycling as a way of life. A check presentation was made at a recent school event celebration.
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.
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!
In 2013, Keep Clinton, MS Beautiful received a grant from Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Waste Management Inc. The grant enabled us to construct a Community Garden located at the Clinton Community Christian Corporation. This garden will provide fresh vegetables for low to moderate income residents. It will also aid in the education of the value of fresh vegetables and good health. In a state with a significantly high obesity rate, this garden underscores the importance of healthy lifestyle and food choices. The garden will create an environment by which obesity and hunger are combatted through community partnerships and healthy lifestyles. Classes and cooking demonstrations will continue in coordination with the ongoing maintenance of the garden. The garden is a significant investment in the future of our communities’ ability to meet the needs of our residents while also providing a transformative experience for the children and families benefitting from the garden.
By Sarah Kountouris, Executive Director, Keep Mississippi Beautiful
Kamien Way was once a bit tired. And because its proximity to downtown it was definitely not a place that the city of Cleveland, Miss., wanted visitors to see.
But now that’s changed, thanks to help of 350-plus volunteers who turned out for our Great American Cleanup State Kickoff in early April.
Volunteers transformed the alley into a place merchants and visitors can use. And they also spruced up local parks and removed litter from the Delta town’s streets.
Keep Mississippi Beautiful partnered with Keep Cleveland Beautiful, and many other groups who helped make this event possible. A special thanks to Keep Cleveland Beautiful’s executive director, Lisa Cooley, who was the driving force behind this successful event.
Most of our volunteers were from Delta State University, and we were so excited to have the younger generation be a part of the cleanup effort. Plus, it’s neat to see all of the social media buzz they bring with them!
Lisa said it best: “It’s very refreshing to see kids get involved, especially with the hope they will be environmentally responsible adults one day.”
Other partners included: the City of Cleveland (i.e. public works, fire department, parks commission), Joe Reed Dirt, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Sanders Seed, Heidi’s, Sonic, Lenny’s, Keep Cleveland Boring, Bolivar County Literacy Council, Guaranty Bank, Master Gardeners, Cleveland Rent-All, RES, Entergy, JLP Law, Troy-Bilt, and many others.
The alley was the cleanup’s signature project, during which we cleaned up debris, trimmed overgrown plants and painted bare walls. We have plans to add a few murals, and this cleanup effort paved the way for those additional projects. With this work complete, the alley is another asset to the city’s cute downtown, providing parking space and a gathering place. The vision is one day to hold events in the alley, such as concerts and festivals.
This event serves as a foundation for future improvement projects for the alley. As Lisa put it: “The community is so excited about the project. I’ve already had numerous calls about when the next cleanup will take place! We’re excited to see what happens next!”
Learn more by visiting keepmsbeautiful.com.