Blount County showed its volunteer spirit for Earth Round Up 2010 on Saturday, April 24, and then didn’t let the weather put a damper on the celebration. With more than 2,400 volunteers picking up 7,350 pounds of trash during the morning, the afternoon celebration at Maryville College had an energy and excitement all its on, despite being moved inside to Cooper Gym.
In the past two years the event has drawn between 352 and 450 volunteers, Keep Blount Beautiful coordinator Charlene DeShay said.
“Blount County truly showed their volunteer spirit in 2010. We are so excited about the turn out this year! We had far more volunteers than ever expected,” she said.
Volunteers included students at John Sevier Elementary, Foothills Elementary, Alcoa Elementary, Girl/Boy Scouts Troops, church groups, Give a Day Get a Disney Day volunteers, Maryville College students, Heritage High School students, Alcoa Inc, Denso, Clayton Homes, Maryville Rotary, 4-H and individuals who just wanted to help. The Town of Louisville recruited 100 volunteers just to clean up the Louisville area.
Morning projects included marking storm drains and lots of river/roadside/park/parking lot clean up. Volunteers were encouraged to clean up anywhere and everywhere within Blount county. A few residents even opted to clean up their own neighborhoods or an area they drive by everyday that needs help with litter.
After the clean up, more than 1,000 volunteers gathered at Maryville College to celebrate Earth Day and learn more about how Blount County can be clean and green. All volunteers received a free hot dog or hamburger dinner along with chips and drinks cooked by the Blount County Sheriff’s Department. Food was donated by U.S. Foodservice and drinks were donated by Pepsi Bottling of Knoxville.
The evening event had been moved inside Cooper Gym due to rain but went on as planned. Volunteers visited environmental booths, bid on more than 50 silent auction items, received free Alcoa Inc. recycling bins and door prizes, while children played in the large children’s area. While eating dinner, families listened to Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, Allie Little Friends and The Outdoor Sisters. Others decided to attend seminars ranging from Composting, How to Make a Rainbarrel and Recycling 101 in Blount County.
Event partners were Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Maryville College, New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Keep Blount Beautiful and the Little River Watershed Association.
Kathy Delozier, executive vice president of Chamber programs, said the event went well despite the rainy weather.
“I know part of our goal was to try to get as many people as possible to participate in morning clean up, and everybody did,” she said. “Little River Watershed and Keep Blount Beautiful focused on the morning clean up and didn’t have to worry about the evening activities and their number were up to more than 2,400 volunteers. Despite the rain it worked out pretty well.”
Mark Whited, executive director with Little River Watershed Association, said he thought the threat of rain would keep volunteers away.
“Despite weather being bad, it turned out well. We had a great opportunity for clean up. We sent people all over from Walland to Townsend. We had people canoeing down the river,” he said. “We had people on the Greenway through Maryville and Alcoa and sent people on roads throughout the county and cleaned up more than 7,000 pounds of trash for the day mass cleanup. We were extremely happy with the support we got.”
Whited said there was also a silent auction of items donated to Keep Blount Beautiful and Little River Watershed and $2,000 was raised. Pistol Creek Catch of the Day provided music.
Billy Newton, executive director for the Center for Strong Communities was impressed with how many attended even though rain soaked the campus. “The highlight of the day for me was the dedication of people throughout this region that they came in spite of threatening weather,” he said. “It was such a huge turn out for the clean-up throughout the week and Saturday,and they persisted even in the midst of rain that evening to come and celebrate.”
Event Sponsors were Alcoa Inc., DENSO, Regional Clean Air Coalition, Blount Memorial Hospital, US Foodservice, Pepsi, Knoxville Metropolitan Airport Authority, Blount County Storm Water Department, Y-12 Federal Credit Union, Spectra Recycling, Knoxville TVA Credit Union, Dixie Home Crafters, First Tennessee Bank, Maryville Arts Coalition and Mountain National Bank.