Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
More than 300 people turned out this past Saturday for the largest annual trash collection event in Orange County.
The Community Trash-Off was held this past Saturday as a total of 309 volunteers from across the area helped pick up trash, debris and various other items throughout the streets of Orange, West Orange and Pinehurst and even along Adams Bayou.
“We had such a great turnout for this year’s event,” said Noelle Jordan, the Environmental Education Coordinator at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange which sponsored the event. “We filled up two 40-yard collection containers with all kinds of trash and debris. It was great to see so many people give their time for this project.”
According to the Stark Cultural Venues website, since the inception of the program in 1995, more than 150,000 pounds of trash has been collected. The effort not only helps to beautify the community, but it assists in protecting the environment.
Participants were able to form teams of three-to-five people and were assigned specific streets or areas to collect trash and debris. Approximately 20 tires were collected along with the normally found items such as cans, bottles, paper, wood and scrap metal.
“It really was a community supported event through the number of people who participated and the local businesses who donated the 192 prizes we gave away,” she added.
Jordan stated the volunteers represented local youth groups, schools, families and individuals from a variety of locations, including one from Mississippi and one from Japan, as well as local businesses such as Firestone which had more than 40 employees participate.
The largest overall group of volunteers came from INVISTA, which was represented by approximately 70 people.
“Environmental stewardship is important to us at INVISTA,” said Lee Smith, Reliability Services Manager at INVISTA in Orange. “The Community Trash-Off is a great way for us to show that. We like being part of the community.”
With approximately 20 percent of the total number of participants representing INVISTA, Smith could not help but smile.
“We are pleased with the number of employees who came out to help in the Trash Off,” he added. “It shows how much everyone really cares about their community.”
As a show of appreciation to all of the people who volunteered, Stark Cultural Venues offered vouchers which can be redeemed for a free ticket to the production of the eco-adventure story, “The Great Mountain,” at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts. People with vouchers planning to attend the show are encouraged to redeem vouchers for tickets as soon as possible as seating is limited.