By MARINA WATERS
If you’re able to walk, bend down and pick up litter, the Keep Jonesborough Beautiful group wants you for its Great American Cleanup event scheduled for Saturday, May 8.
“I know a lot of people do this already, when you see litter or trash, you pick it up and take it to a place to dispose of it,” said Terry Countermine, a Jonesborough alderman and the town representative involved with Keep Jonesborough Beautiful. “Essentially, if you are healthy enough to walk and bend over to pick up a piece of trash and put it in a container, that would help.”
The clean-up event will send its volunteers into Jonesborough’s parks, streets and public spaces to pick up any litter found throughout town as part of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup, which is a nation-wide community improvement program that has been encouraging local communities to clean its cities and towns for over 20 years.
However, 2020’s event was stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which, like so many other events, halted Keep Jonesborough Beautiful’s efforts. But that hasn’t stopped the interest this year, Countermine said.
“When it comes to outdoor events and doing something good for the community, I think people do want to show up, they do want to get involved,” said Ashley Cavender, who is the Keep Jonesborough Beautiful secretary and the event’s coordinator. “People have been so disconnected from that community aspect over the last year.”
This year, the Jonesborough cleanup event will also give locals the option of recycling their old electronic items that no longer work, such as computers, smartphones, printers and more.
“We will have a big truck that the town is providing where people can take their e-waste,” Countermine said. “I hope that word gets spread because I get calls all the time about that. If (an electronic item) is not working anymore, we’ll take it to an e-waste recycling place.”
This year’s event will also offer free coffee from The Corner Cup and free lunch provided by Main Street Cafe and Catering.
“We are offering a to-go lunch and coffee. I think that’s something that has happened in the past, but I don’t think the local businesses have gotten due credit,” Cavender said. “You can get a coffee from Corner Cup in the morning and then you get a lunch from Main Street Cafe after.”
Cavender and the Keep Jonesborough Beautiful team are still looking for volunteers and are hoping that those willing to help out will also sign up online.
“We definitely do still need volunteers,” Cavendar said. “We really do want to encourage people to sign up or let us know in some way they plan to be there. That’s how we can plan for food and decrease food waste. We want to make sure we are getting enough supplies for everyone too who is going to show up. People saying, ‘Hey, I’ll be there,’ that would be really helpful for us.”
Those involved in the cleanup will also get to interact with other community members after a year of decreased in-person interaction, which Countermine and Cavender both said they felt is the biggest draw for this year’s cleanup.
“Just to be outside and be together and do something that is meaningful (is what people have missed),” Cavender said. “We just want connection. Whether that is picking up trash on the side of the road and talking about what they did last Saturday or whatever, I think it’s a good spot to be in.”
“One of the things I love about Jonesborough is the volunteers,” Countermine said. “We’re having an event that has a purpose, but it’s also about fellowship and getting to know people and coming together as a community. I think people are thirsting for that.”
The cleanup event will be held on Saturday, May 8, from 8 a.m. to noon. To volunteer for the event, sign up at https://forms.gle/rwHLTsSn6Mioo7Hr9.
For more information, see the event’s facebook page at https://fb.me/e/2lvh7WezQ or email [email protected]