Five hundred and thirty pounds of garbage was collected from the Mississippi River Cleanup on Saturday.
Volunteers gathered in the Outdoor Endeavors office around 9 a.m. to sign-in, followed by breakfast. As more volunteers showed up and time drew closer to 9 a.m., student-leaders began distributing gloves and yellow bags from the DNR Adopt-a-River Program’s ‘How-to’ kit. Just after 9 a.m., groups were sent to the one of the five divided sections of campus to begin the cleanup.
Volunteers weaved in and out of the wooded areas to retrieve garbage from the steep banks. Garbage, including plastic bags and bottles, glass and a 75-pound metal pipe, found its way to the river’s edge where it stayed until that morning.
Micah Most, a computer science major at SCSU, said that his desire to help came “after hearing the statistics about how much garbage ends up in the Mississippi River per year.” Most led his group of volunteers through the brush to the riverbanks, where he said that they found cables, glass and even a bulky piece of an old electrical post.
Large, heavy pieces of garbage were to be taped off for a safe retrieval, but there were smaller articles of garbage, like plastic bags, wrappers and bottles, that found their way into the brush just beyond the sidewalk just beyond sight.
Carefully watching their steps as they retrieved garbage from the riverbanks, students managed to cover from K-Lot to Lawrence Hall.
“The river is our home,” Mica Saucedo, a marketing major at SCSU, said. “The city is built on the river.” She said that in order to order to have the opportunities that the river provides, like paddling or fishing, “we need to protect it.”
The cleanup was organized and managed by an Honors 220 class at SCSU, “A Deep Exploration of Our River”. To help promote the cleanup, Saucedo and her classmates made calls; sent letters and emails to local businesses for donations to the cleanup effort. Saucedo said that $300 worth of food was donated to the effort.
As volunteers filled bag after bag and hauled them back to Outdoor Endeavors, they were invited to stay for lunch and a small raffle. Raffle winners took home gift cards to local restaurants, and everybody received a reusable water bottle for their time and effort devoted to the cleanup.
Saucedo said that the overall layout of the cleanup was successful, but advertising surfaced as a problem. To help better the cleanup for the future, volunteers were emailed a survey for an opportunity to provide feedback. With 34 volunteers, she said that it went “incredibly well,” but they’re hoping for 50 volunteers for the spring cleanup.
Despite issues with advertising, the cleanup gave the class a real “community building” experience, she said.
“We worked hard on this, and it was rewarding to see it all come together,” Saucedo continued. “We ran it as a class.”
This article originally appeared in the University Chronicle on November 2, 2014.