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Community-Wide Fall Litter Sweep Collects Over 4,700 pounds of trash

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Girl Scout Troop picks up on the Purple Martin Greenway with Rocki the Raccoons help. Left to right: Leola Yelton, Tristan Yelton, Aa'Lynna Bridges, Lilly Yelton, Rocki the Raccoon, Kylie Dobbins, Amilia Resendiz, Alma Resendiz, Abigale Hutchins and Rose

The Rutherford County Community-Wide Fall Litter Sweep included 14 teams comprised of 85 volunteers as well as paid pickup on over 60 miles of roads. This annual collection event was held over a 6-week period to allow for weather and erratic schedules. The ongoing partnership with the teams also includes the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the towns of Spindale, Rutherfordton, and Forest City.

"COVID-19 has proven to be a factor that can't be ignored", said Litter Subcommittee Chair Jenna Bailey. "But we have instituted safe practices to make this seemingly never-ending problem of litter bugs surmountable."

All necessary logistic components were contactless in order to keep committee members and the team leaders safe. Signing up participants and recording collections were moved exclusively online. Assembling packets, getting supplies, and dropping off remaining items were done with a self-service approach. Durable work gloves were also provided as a gift from Keep RC Beautiful to keep people covered and safe while collecting. These methods were deemed so successful, they will continue for future events.

The collection included 315 bags of trash removed from roadways, trails, and parking lots.

"We are happy to be able to accept donations of $100 per mile of roadway. These monies go directly to the third-party contractor that collects on your behalf," said Committee Chair Don Cason with Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority. "Because of donations and budget dollars, we were able to have paid collection on 63.5 miles of roadway throughout Rutherford County."

This paid service is critical for so many roads with tight shoulders, speed limits above 35 MPH, or other unsafe conditions. If you would like to donate to clean up a road near you, go to KeepRCNCBeautiful.org and click on the "Donate Now" tab.

Corporate teams like American Zinc Products stepped up and showed their commitment in a big way. Their team of 13 volunteers collected 24 bags of trash along with car debris and boxes. Team leader Mia Chapman made a great video capturing their time served.

The "Keep Rutherford County Beautiful" campaign is officially represented by its own mascots - Roxi Raccoon and her brother, Rocki. Both are lively and lovable costumed spokespersons who travel the county, engaging people of all ages, and standing up for community pride, clean streets, and healthy living. Over two dozen individuals serve on the Keep RC Beautiful committee and represent government, corporate, law enforcement, and nonprofit entities across the county. They have worked together over the last four years to take on waste management by focusing on litter pickups, recycling, education, and policy change.

The 2nd annual Trash Bowl is slated to return in 2021 along with our Spring Litter Sweep. The Trash Bowl initiative is for high school students and staff members, who do volunteer trash pick ups and add every pound they collect to their school's total. Last year five Rutherford County high schools --Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA), Lake Lure Classical Academy, R-S Central, East Rutherford and Chase High schools -- competed against one another to claim bragging rights and the Trash Bowl trophy. TJHS was awarded as the most accomplished community partner against litter for that year with over 3,500 lbs. collected.

To learn more, get involved, or donate visit http://keepRCNCbeautiful.org, the Facebook page @KeepRCNCBeautiful or email KeepRCNCBeautiful@RutherfordCountyNC.gov.

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