Help clean up Itawamba County’s mess this April

ICT-0315-Great American Cleanup-3c

News Coordinator

ICDC Executive Director Vaunita Martin has a mental exercise that helps her determine Itawamba County’s needs:

“I step back and look at what we need in Itawamba County, and I try to look through the eyes of a visitor who’s never been here before,” she said.

She thinks about what she notices: restaurants, entertainment possibilities, retail shopping, the beautiful waterway.

There’s something else she notices, too.

“Unfortunately, last year, I realized that the first thing I noticed when I came into Itawamba County is all the trash that’s accumulated on the sides of our roads,” she said.

That realization drove her to create Keep Itawamba Beautiful, a local branch of the annual Great American Cleanup, which bands thousands of volunteers across the country together in an effort to spruce up their communities by picking up roadside trash.

Last year, the entire county was represented in this event, dubbed locally “Keep Itawamba Beautiful.” There were 161 volunteers, who picked up more than four tons of trash from the county’s roadways.

Martin, who organizes the event, thinks Itawamba can do even better during this year’s event, set for the morning of Saturday, April 8.

“We want to ensure this year we have even more volunteers,” she said. “The more volunteers we have, the more we can get done.”

As part of the program, the Itawamba County Development Council will provide trash bags for volunteers to fill, and the county’s solid waste department will ensure dumpsters are conveniently placed in participating communities. After the event, the dumpsters will be collected and the trash weighed.

With nearly a month left until the event, nearly a dozen different churches, businesses and civic organizations have already committed to participate in the event. Martin said she’s continuing to reach out to various groups and businesses to encourage them to join in.

Do you usually pick up litter when you spot it?

  • Yes (71%, 17 Votes)
  • No (29%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Created 18 years ago by Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest nonprofit community improvement organization, the Great American Cleanup provides free garbage bags to communities throughout the country and tasks people to fill them with every stray can, errant fast-food bag and discarded beer case they can find. Ostensibly, the goal is to pick up as much trash as possible, but at its heart, it’s all about creating a sense of pride in the community.

Martin called the need for events like the Great American Cleanup an “unfortunate necessity.” Although Martin said last year’s event kept the county’s roadways noticeably less cluttered for several months, they’ve gradually grown messy again over the year.

“It’s an eyesore,” she said.

Any individuals or organizations interested in participating in Keep Itawamba Beautiful are asked to contact the ICDC at 662-862-4571.
In the meantime, folks can help out by treating every day like The Great America Cleanup. See that empty water bottle rolling down the street? Or that crushed can nestled in the grass? How about that crumpled fast-food sack somebody just dumped in the parking lot? Go ahead …

“Do the right thing,” Martin said. “Pick it up.”
Twitter: @admarmr

About Adam Armour

Adam Armour has been writing and taking photographs for "The Itawamba County Times" since 2005. His words and pictures have earned 18 Mississippi Press Association Awards, including several "Best of" category recognitions. He has written and independently published one novel and is currently working on a second.