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     How many times have you walked down the sidewalk on your street and seen a stray piece of litter carelessly thrown there? How many times have you taken the time to stop and pick it up?
     How many times have you driven down one of the back roads of our community and seen an illegal dump littered with couches, washers and dryers and even commodes? How many times did you stop to try and help clean it up?
That’s the type of questions that Bobby Hurst, chairman of Fayetteville Beautiful, might be asking on Saturday, April 18 at the kick-off of the Fayetteville Beautiful Spring citywide clean-up. Hurst, who heads up the non-profit organization, has overseen a number of these events, and he has watched them grow as more and more residents begin to take pride in our community.
     {mosimage} “Over time, you expect these kinds of events to dwindle,” said Hurst. “The first event is always huge, but people drift away and it doesn’t become as important. That isn’t the case with Fayetteville Beautiful.”
     In fact, this year’s event is expected to be the largest event ever. There are many factors that have added to the success of the event, but the main factor is community involvement.
     “We’ve got churches and civic groups participating. We’ve got Boy Scouts from all across the county involved. There are school groups, and there are families – all working to make our city better,” said Hurst.
     This year’s event is getting a shot in the arm through the involvement of the Church of the Latter-day Saints. According to Anna Molgard, the director of public affairs for the area churches, the church participates in an annual Day of Service across the country. In Cumberland County, the church decided to adopt Fayetteville Beautiful as its service project. That means that more than 300 members of the area churches will come out in force to participate in the event.
“We are joining with congregations from our church throughout the Southeast United States in a day of service,” said Molgard. “We decided to partner with Fayetteville Beautiful after we talked with the mayor’s office.”
     Molgard said she called the mayor’s office to see what needs the city had.  She was looking for an event that could accommodate a large number of volunteers, and that would make a big impact on the community.
     “Service is a big part of our church and our faith. This is the largest scale project that has been done in this area in the last several years,” she said. “We are glad to serve and join our friends and neighbors to clean up our city and make it a better place for us all to live.”
     Quality of life is one of the main reasons Fayetteville Beautiful was initially formed. The city recognized that people want to live in a safe, clean community. That was one of the agenda items that came out of the first Fayetteville Futures study. Hurst, who became the trash czar for the community, began building a group of volunteers and put the plan into motion.
     He noted that many people do not understand the impact litter has on a community. He related that just recently the county hosted individuals who were looking to locate a business here. As the delegation pulled up to the county’s business park, economic developers were shocked to find an illegal dump at the entrance.
     “They didn’t even want to go in,” said Hurst. “It made a real impact on county leaders, and they are hoping to either join us or start a similar program of their own.”
     He noted that during past clean-ups many of these illegal dumps were eradicated; only to be refilled by county residents. In the weeks leading up to the April 18 event, Hurst and members of his committee will tour the community to find areas of high-concentration litter. These high-litter areas will be targeted by the committee during the clean-up.
Mayor Tony Chavonne is excited about the event. “We have two citywide clean-ups each year, but there’s something exciting about the spring event,” he said. “Maybe it’s all the color or the newness of the season, but we always have a wonderful turnout for this event, and we look to this event to be the most successful so far.”
     Hurst said that many organizations that adopt roads will also take part in the event. He said over the past several years a great partnership has developed between his organization and the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“Really, we’re all working for the same goal: a cleaner community,” said Hurst.
     This fall, the organization will turn its attention to the Cape Fear River and its banks. Hurst said this event will not have as many youth participants due to the nature of the event. “We’re actually going to have people in boats cleaning the water,” he said.
     But, for now, Hurst is still actively seeking volunteers. If you’re interested in pitching in and helping clean up the community, visit the organization’s Web site at www.fayettevillebeautiful.com. Volunteer organizers will assign             you a location, and you can pick up your bags and gloves at the kick-off.

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