Public invited to help with Earth Day cleanup

Brianne Carlon

With warm weather just in time for Earth Day, students and residents will be participating in a downtown cleanup this Saturday.

Brad Slease, a graduate student and Kent resident, said between 100 and 200 volunteers will split up into groups of four to pick up garbage, such as cigarette butts, litter, glass and recyclable materials, as well as remove graffiti.

Meeting at The Rock Caf‚, the groups will cover ground between Crain Avenue and Haymaker Parkway and from Depeyster Street to the parks along the Cuyahoga River from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The city arranged for a large trash bin to be placed on West Main Street near Home Savings Plaza, and Portage County Solid Waste Management District will have recycling bins set up for glass, plastic and paper, Slease said.

Student organizations including the Human Service Management Student Association, Center for Student Involvement and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program will be taking part in the cleanup.

Kent resident Holly Shaffer does a lot of work with Adopt-a-Spot, which keeps flowers planted and cared for downtown. She has already started cleaning downtown.

“I had a huge bag full (of cigarette butts) the other day that I took out,” she said. “It is discouraging to go down there. I know I am going to have to pick up again before we plant.”

Shaffer said she hopes other people see those cleaning downtown and it will make them more aware of their littering habits.

Mary Gilbert, executive director of Main Street Kent, was planning a downtown cleanup Wednesday, which was postponed three weeks because of bad weather.

“We are going to wait until Monday and see how clean the downtown is, but I think they are going to beat us to it,” Gilbert said. It doesn’t matter who does it, as long as it gets done, she said.

A clean downtown is important for attracting visitors, she said.

“People who come through here and could possibly stop and eat at a restaurant or shop at one of the shops are not going to come if it looks bad,” she said.

Heidi Shaffer, Ward 5 city council candidate, said she encourages students to get involved with volunteering.

“One-day cleanups are an easy way to start citizen involvement,” she said.

Jimmy John’s and the Franklin Square Deli will provide food, Slease said. The Rock Caf‚ will be providing refreshments, and T-shirts will be on sale to make back money spent.

Slease said he plans to continue organizing a cleanup twice a year around Earth Day in late April and Make a Difference Day in late October.

“I live and breath to build community,” Slease said. “We want to bring back the spirit of the neighborhood.”

Contact public affairs reporter Brianne Carlon at [email protected].