Volunteers rolling up sleeves for Countywide Cleanup
Residents from every corner of Putnam County will join forces this weekend to beautify the area and rid it of trash and litter.
Local nonprofit Keep Putnam Beautiful is leading the charge in the 2019 Countywide Cleanup. Various volunteers and groups chipped in to pick up over 8,000 pounds of trash during last year’s Countywide Cleanup, but Keep Putnam Beautiful officials are confident even more trash will be collected this year.
Keep Putnam Beautiful Executive Director Christen Mitchell said there are 19 designated zones in which groups will clean from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Cleanup groups are being organized in Palatka, Bardin, Georgetown and other areas.
“This year, I have 320 people officially signed up online, and several of those signups are groups that signed up in one slot,” Mitchell said. “That is just the people that sign up. We have a lot of people that just show up.”
County Commissioner Larry Harvey is taking part in the cleanup effort in Interlachen. He said it is important for the county to make good impressions on visitors, and one of the best ways to do that is by clearing the county of trash.
“It is how we showcase our county,” he said. “When people are driving through, before we even get to welcome them or talk to them, they are looking at us.”
Mitchell said she has worked hard to spread the word about this year’s Countywide Cleanup and Keep Putnam Beautiful’s mission. After seeing an influx of willing participants from every corner of the county, she feels like the strategy has paid off.
“I feel like people see who we are and what we are doing and want to be a part of it,” she said. “In general, I just see people really love where they live and want to make difference here.”
Harvey said while the Countywide Cleanup is a community effort, it would be a daunting task without Mitchell’s leadership.
Her tenacity and passion have been infectious, he said, making her an easy person for people to follow.
“I think everybody wants to get behind someone who is passionate and motivated and makes you want to be better at something,” Harvey said. “And that would be Christen Mitchell.”
The pride residents have in the area is another huge reason the cleanup was a success last year and is poised to grow this year, Mitchell said.
One example of this pride is when Mitchell showed off an area in East Palatka that was filled with trash last year.
When she went to the area recently, its condition had significantly improved, largely due to the efforts of a couple who took part in last year’s cleanup and continued beautification efforts throughout the year.
“Instead of just showing up for a one-time event, they walk out there every week. And when they walk, they pick up trash,” she said.
“It was so much better than it has been, and it is because of the people who went out and did the cleanup one time and decided one time isn’t enough. … It has made a huge difference in that area. And that is the goal of this”
For information, contact Keep Putnam Beautiful at 325-9598 or visit keepputnambeautiful.org.