By MATT CRANE
With 21 days remaining until the first kick off of the new football season, the city of Starkville is gearing up to do its part in welcoming visitors to the town and Mississippi State University campus.
On Wednesday, Aug. 29, hundreds of volunteers will take part in the ninth annual Get Swept Up, a community cleaning effort aimed to rid the city of litter.
Austin Shafer, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Vice President of Membership and Chamber of Commerce, said volunteers from both the Starkville and MSU community will work from 7 a.m. to noon picking up trash and cleaning up weeds and shrubs for the betterment of the city.
“We want to show our best Starkville for the first home game,” Shafer said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to make this city look its best.”
Project coordinator Libby Gerald said the event originated in the Community Appearance Committee at the GSDP.
“I get the volunteers together and assign the streets they’ll be picking up litter on,” Gerald said. “I have felt very fortunate to be involved every year.”
Gerald said one of the event’s most important goals is to raise awareness for the litter problems in Starkville.
“I think it’s important because we have a lot of new people coming into town for football season, and I want us to make a good impression,” she said. “People don’t realize until they do something like this what a problem litter can be.”
Gerald said she is hoping for a larger volunteer turnout this year, but is thankful for those who continue to come back year after year cleaning the same spots.
“Rotary always does the downtown area, and St. Joe’s cleans up from campus to Montgomery (Street) all along University Drive,” she said. “Starkville Academy and Starkville High School are always good about cleaning up their areas as well.”
Gerald said she is appreciative of the individual and business volunteers that continue to help with Get Swept Up.
“Chris Green from the Miss. Department of Transportation actually just picked up the trash bags in Jackson that Keep Mississippi Beautiful provides for us,” she said. “OCH provides our volunteers with gloves to wear while they’re picking up litter.”
Gerald said the event not only allows residents to take action in cleaning up their city, but also make connections with one another.
“I think it really fosters a sense of community,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to get out and work together to make a difference.”
Because of the Get Swept Up t-shirts and bottled water volunteers will receive, Gerald said she and the committee prefer to know how many volunteers to expect in advance.
“If we know ahead of time, we can enough, but we certainly won’t turn anybody away,” she said. “People can sign up by calling or emailing the GSDP.”
In an email from the GSDP, businesses that would like to help defray program costs may obtain a sponsorship form. Sponsors at four different levels are rewarded for their generosity with publicity ranging from mentions in media releases to prominent logo displays on t-shirts.
For more information at Get Swept Up and how to volunteer, call 662-323-3322 or visit http://www.starkville.org .