ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful puts on “The Great American Clean Up” on the last Saturday of April each year.
Volunteers were up and cleaning as early as 8:30 a.m. They said that the cleanup promotes a more vibrant community.
“We have a beautiful city, and to make it beautiful, we all have to put into the work, put in the work,” said Kalup Griffis, volunteer and assistant project coordinator at Life Decisions.
Volunteers put in that work by donating a few hours of their Saturday to help clean up trash, plastic, bottles, cans and glass from neighborhoods, parks and roadways.
Griffis said that seeing all of the garbage in such a beautiful area is devastating, but is glad that there are people out there that want to clean it up.
“Being an organization on State Street, we feel like there’s the need for us to be out here to clean it just because we are, we see it every day,” Griffis said. “We’re out here trying to bring restoration of Rockford, to make Rockford a more beautiful place, so this is where to start.”
There are nine meet-up spots across the stateline for volunteers to grab their garbage-grabbing tongs, gloves, safety vests and bright yellow trash bags. There were more than 1,200 volunteers that covered 312 miles of road last year, cleaning up 94,000 pounds of litter.
“We try to hit the areas that nobody is responsible for, like the creek, along more, say drive. You know, it’s you know, there’s no business to clean up after it,” said Paula Olson, executive director of Miracle Mile Rockford. “The empty parking lot where the Magna grocery store was is always a terrible mess from trash blowing there.”
Other volunteers, like Olson, said that it is sad that they have to do it every year, but it is necessary to keep the city healthy and safe.
“It’s just something that we enjoy doing, to keep our area looking nice and helps improve the area, and promotes economic vitality,” Olson said.
Both Olson and Giffis hope people will realize that they can also do their part in keeping the city clean.
“To be able to walk through their city anywhere and see that it’s just beautiful and not full of trash is really important,” Griffis said.
Volunteers said that they hope to have more cleanups throughout the year.