Each Spring, volunteers hit the streets of Fayetteville with one goal in mind: making Fayetteville beautiful. Last year, 1,471 volunteers participated in the citywide cleanup, picking up more than 31,000 pounds of trash. On Saturday, April 21, a like number of individuals will gather at the Martin Luther King Expressway on ramp on Ramsey Street at 9 a.m., to kick off another cleanup.
But before you think it’s more of the same old, same old, think again.
“We have some new and different things we are doing this year,” said Bobby Hurst, the chairman of Fayetteville Beautiful. “We know that we need to keep it fresh and growing.”
One of the ways Hurst hopes to do that is by making volunteering a little easier. This year the volunteer system went online, with a volunteer map located on the City of Fayetteville and the Parks and Recreation websites.
“People can go online and see where their group is assigned or they can see what areas are still available and then they can adopt that area,” explained Hurst.
The map will also show volunteers where their stretch of road begins and where it ends, which is important because the number of volunteers each year continues to rise. Hurst said the volunteer campaign is beginning to wrap up, and they have found that more groups have joined, which greatly enhances the organization’s ability to clean up more roads He added that a large number of the new volunteers are coming from the county’s schools.
“We are actually going to award a $250 prize to the school that has the most volunteers,” said Hurst. “That money will go to their student government association. So far, Pine Forest has the most volunteers at 62, but there are still a lot of other schools that we haven’t heard from yet.”
Even with the changes to the event, Hurst wants to keep it true to its roots, which is improving the community. Over the past seven years, the annual cleanup has removed 87 tons of litter from 296 miles of road. All of the work has been done by the hands of 7,389 volunteers.
Those volunteers are the heart of Fayetteville Beautiful, which was started as a committee of concerned citizens dedicated to encouraging others to take greater responsibility for improving their environment. The key to a long-term sustainable solution for a more beautiful Fayetteville is its success at changing individual behavior and attitudes about litter.
Over the past several years, Hurst and his organization have been successful at changing perceptions and habits, but this year, the organization saw a slight climb in its annual Litter Index, the measurement tool created by Keep America, which helps communities identify and understand the extent of their litter problems. Hurst’s excitment for the upcoming event was tempered by the latest litter index, which was recently released. Over the past several years, the county’s litter index has fallen, but this year, there was a slight increase to 1.86.
“We are covering more roads than ever before, and we are, in fact doubling the amount of miles that Keep America says you need for a city our size,” he said.
He believes a successful Fayetteville Beautiful event will go far to bring the county numbers back in line.
“We just really want a great turn out and want to get a lot of trash off our roadsides,” said Hurst.
For more information about Fayetteville Beautiful visit the website at www.fayettevillebeautiful. com or to volunteer, contact Lynn Hughes at 433-1587.