Eighteen student organizations team up to help clean up Athens
April 24, 2007
By Cory Fritz
Photos by Denny Culbert
As many students took advantage of sunny skies and warm weather on Saturday to relax and enjoy the weekend, volunteers representing 18 student organizations participated in nine community service projects throughout the city as a part of the second annual Athens Beautification Day.
Volunteers mulched, painted, washed, cleaned, picked up trash and collected canned food throughout the morning and afternoon. Some highlights included a Court Street cleanup, a canned food drive for Good Works Inc., landscaping at West Elementary, and landscaping and painting at Highland Park.
Organizers hoped the day would give students a chance to give back the community and show that they care.
"Athens is a beautiful area and a wonderful place to live. We want to keep it that way," said Beautification Day Director Greg Jones, an exercise physiology major who graduated at the end of winter quarter. "With our work today we show that we care about our home."
Here's how the day unfolded.
6:30 a.m. – Beautification Day organizers begin setting up for the day's events. They place dozens of rakes, shovels, brooms and wheelbarrows throughout the city and set up tents, tables and chairs for an opening ceremony. Water and food for volunteers is set out. Mulch is distributed for volunteers to spread along Court Street, at West Elementary and Highland Park.
Jones, who is running on about three hours of sleep, and his team have been planning Beautification Day since November. Although getting everything in place over the last few weeks has been exhausting, the final details are falling into place, and the weather could not be better.
9:30 a.m. – Volunteers begin arriving for the opening ceremonies. Students represent nine club sport teams, two fraternities, an honor's council, Student Senate as well as the Alexander High School Track and Field Team. Three other club sports teams were unable to attend today, but instead completed service projects on April 14. Other club sports teams helped in setup and preparation for the day.
10:00 a.m. – As volunteers finish checking in and prepare to head off to their projects, university and city officials offer words of encouragement.
Calling Beautification Day a "great statement of civic pride," Student Senate President Morgan Allen commends students for their efforts.
"You all are the reasons Athens is such a great place to live," she says.
President Roderick McDavis also thanks students for their efforts and offers his views.
"Today turns around all of the negative things that people like to say about students," he says. "It's about giving back, it's about caring about your community, and it's about reaching out to others and doing something above and beyond the call of duty."
Athens Mayor Ric Abel thanks volunteers for their time on such a beautiful day.
"There are many other things you could be doing today," he says, "But you have chosen to beautify Athens."
11:00 a.m. – Volunteers spread out to their locations and begin their projects. On Court Street, volunteers pick up trash, sweep the sidewalks, mulch tree beds and wash storefront windows. Acacia fraternity members and the Women's Lacrosse and Women's Water Polo teams are busy on this project. Similarly, on Mill and surrounding streets, members of Theta Chi fraternity pick up trash and glass and sweep the sidewalks.
Some volunteers move further from campus. At the Dairy Barn, members of the Men's Soccer Team do some heavy lifting and other odd jobs. The Water Ski Team spreads more than 80 bags of mulch in flower gardens at West Elementary. Members of the Field Hockey Team and Student Senate work at Highland Park spreading sand and mulch and painting a swing set.
Back on Court Street, members of the Alexander High School Track and Field Team do some painting for the Athens Historical Society.
Meanwhile, several organizations begin to canvass off-campus neighborhoods. Members of the Synchrocats, the synchronized swimming team, collect cans for Good Works, while the varsity Women's Swim Team and the Honors College Advisory Council distribute information for residents about trash collection and recycling.
3:00 p.m. – The projects are finished. Organizers tear down and clean up tools. Exhaustion sets in. The day began early and has gone very quickly. All of us are proud of our efforts and the hard work from all of the volunteers. Perhaps even more after all of the work today, Athens is truly a place all of us are proud to call home.
Cory Fritz is a senior news writing and editing major and the media relations director for Beautification Day 2007.