By Bill Sumrall
Volunteers from Young Temple Church of God in Christ walked along 9th Street Saturday morning, May 2, picking up litter.
Marie Pullen, 76, sat on her front porch watching the young men.
“I think it’s nice,” Pullen said. “It really helps keep the city clean. It’s very nice of them to be doing it.”
Thus, the nationwide Great American Cleanup proceeded in Alexandria Saturday.
Inside the Broadway Resource Center, Sandra Bright, secretary and spokeswoman for the Lower Third Neighborhood Watch, said members of Young Temple Church of God in Christ at 750 Bogan Ave. are “very active with our neighborhood group also.”
“If we can just get the people to pick up their own, it wouldn’t be necessary for us to do it,” Bright said.
Elder Leon Clayton, who is pastor at Young Temple COGIC, said the cleanup “has made a tremendous change in the community with this program” by encouraging neighbors in cleaning up.
“I can see a great change that’s been taking place in that area and if we can continue to help ourselves by helping others,” Clayton said, adding such efforts unite the community.
Across town along Rapides Avenue Saturday, volunteers John Kilbourne, Rodessa Metoyer and Macon Blankenship were also using pickup sticks to snag crushed cans and litter from the roadside where they walked.
“I just came out to support The Pentecostals of Alexandria and the city of Alexandria,” Blankenship, 51, said.
Metoyer said, “It would be more help if people would bag their trash and not throw it down.”
Kilbourne noted that 15 volunteers from The Pentecostals of Alexandria were also in the area picking up litter, including the Rev. Anthony Mangun, who Kilbourne said leads by example.
“He’s somewhere out here,” Kilbourne said, looking around.
Bettye Jones, executive director for Cenla Pride/Keep Cenla Beautiful, said this is her 20th year with Cenla Pride and they’ve been participating in the Great American Cleanup for at least that long.
More than 2 million people across the country participated in the Great American Cleanup, Jones said.
“The whole idea is we have a force out there doing it,” Jones said, which inspires people in the neighborhoods to join in.
Jones said that in addition to reaching out to clean up neighborhoods, she encouraged people to clean nearby public property “which is their (taxpayers’) property.”
Charlie Anderson, coordinator for Weed and Seed for Alexandria Area Four, said he’d even seen people normally indifferent to their environment “began to clean their yard up” after spotting volunteers cleaning up in their neighborhoods.
“It moved me,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty impressed about that.”
Ann Wilson, superintendent of environmental services with the City of Alexandria, said, “We want to encourage people not to wait for a clean-up day” but to take responsibility for their neighborhoods.
Wilson said many people don’t understand that it’s a volunteer effort to clean up a neighborhood.
Jones agreed, saying she’d gotten calls from people wanting volunteers to come to their personal property and clean it up for them.
Wilson said, “When people take personal responsibility for the way it looks and they pick up litter and trash, it’s less likely it’ll be littered again.”
Wilson cited her daughter’s experience cleaning up a convenience store alleyway in New Orleans as an example.
Wilson said her daughter cleaned the alleyway despite ridicule from neighbors who said it would only get trashed up again.
However, a local preacher had been watching the efforts of Wilson’s daughter and a month later Wilson discovered those efforts had paid off because the preacher and his church had kept the alleyway spruced up ever since.
Wilson said the preacher told her that “people knew in our neighborhood that we care” and were less likely to drop litter there.
“That’s the kind of concept we want to instill in people here,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the state of Louisiana spends $15 million a year to pick up litter and that’s money that can be spent in better ways.
The blue T-shirt worn by Wilson had written across it “Louisiana — Don’t Put It Down.”
Wilson explained that the T-shirt’s logo means people shouldn’t put litter down in the first place. “Dispose of waste properly in the first place,” Wilson said.
Gloria Vantree, 66, of Boyce, a board member for Cenla Pride, was helping distribute T-shirts and pick-up sticks outside The Pentecostals of Alexandria church, one of the command posts for clean-up volunteers Saturday.
It’s very important that if we don’t put down, we don’t have to pick up,” Vantree said.
Sitting beside Vantree to help distribute tee-shirts was Helen Bogue, 86, of Alexandria, who is Bettye Jones’ mother and a Retired Senior Volunteer Program participant.
Bogue wore a white T-shirt that read: “We’re Bitter About Litter.”
“If everyone would take care of their own litter, we’d have a clean place,” Bogue said.
Larry Trowel, 62, of Woodside/Samtown Neighborhood Watch/Neighborhood Leaders and Keep Cenla Beautiful, walked up to select a tee-shirt at the table.
Trowel, who said he was recognized Dec. 5 as a National Volunteer of the Year, said cleaning up neighborhoods is important.
“If we don’t keep our neighborhoods and help others keep their neighborhoods, this city will go down,” Trowel said.
Trowel challenged those who didn’t participate in Saturday’s clean-up efforts to come out at the next event “just to keep our city clean.”
The city’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16. Residents should bring their household hazardous waste to the Alexandria City Complex located at 2021 Industrial Parkway.
Household hazardous waste is any product labeled as toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable, combustible, or irritant and includes such things as used motor oil, antifreeze, paints, and brake fluid, among others.
Some, but not all, electronic equipment is also accepted for disposal, such as computer hardware and accessories, cell phones and charges, printers, toner and ink jet cartridges.
Electronic and other items not accepted include televisions, stereos, appliances, furniture, ammunition, explosives, and lab or commercial waste.
For a list of items accepted or not accepted for disposal, for questions about how to prepare these materials for disposal or for more information about the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, call Ann Wilson at (318) 441-6251.