ABD volunteers Uptown

Roy An, Eric Backenmeyer, Aaron Humiston, Molly Zemper, Corey Kapolka, and Emily Gaydos take part in Athens Beautification Day, which was held in Athens on Sunday, April 14.

Photographer: Chris Franz


Volunteers removed graffiti on Uptown walls.

Photographer: Chris Franz

Feeding the volunteers

Volunteers were treated to Kiser's BBQ and Avalanche Pizza as well as live entertainment.

Photographer: Chris Franz

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A big Beautification Day for Athens

More than 1,400 turn out to clean up sites across the county

Athens was covered in a sea of blue on Sunday as volunteers participated in the largest Athens Beautification Day to date.

Over 1,400 participants—representatives of campus organizations, students, faculty and Athens residents—combined to form more than 70 groups that worked on projects on the Ohio University campus, in city neighborhoods and sites across the county. The event is sponsored by Ohio University Student Senate.

A pep rally on College Green took place before the event, featuring speeches by Off-Campus Life Commissioner and ABD event coordinator Melinda Ruberg, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl, Gary Chancey from Wayne National Forest and Keep SE Ohio Beautiful, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and Steve Williams from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

During his speech, McDavis emphasized that the university was proud to see a record number of volunteers and excited to see so many students giving back to Athens.

“At the core of this day is what the university is all about—it’s about students giving back,” said McDavis. “You are gathered here today to give something to this beautiful community of which we are all a part.”

After the pep rally, volunteers dispersed all over Athens to participate in a number of projects from trash clean-up to landscaping at sites including on-campus buildings, off-campus residential streets, the bike path and Strouds Run. Transportation to multiple off-campus locations was provided for free by the university.

Following the cleanup, volunteers were treated to a lunch provided by Kiser’s BBQ and Goodfella’s pizza in the Scripps Amphitheatre. Local country musician Cory Cox performed while students ate and socialized.

One new feature of this year’s Athens Beautification Day was the utilization of social media. Each group received a folder with a scavenger hunt list where teams were asked to take a picture of each item and send it to the Twitter account @BeautifyAthens. The team consisting of Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha and Tau Beta Sigma won the scavenger hunt and received a Student Senate prize pack.

Chancey also had a social media team from Keep America Beautiful at the cleanup and encouraged volunteers to tag their tweets and Instagram pictures with the #KeepAmericaBeautiful hashtag so all of the event’s pictures and comments could be seen in one thread.

Junior Morgan Sprosty encouraged classmates in her communications class to get involved with Athens Beautification Day because of her involvement over the past three years. Her group, which included Mayor Wiehl, was assigned to the West State Park by the bike path and baseball fields where they removed large branches and sticks so the grass could be mowed.

“It feels great to know that we’re giving back to the community,” said Sprosty. “Athens is already a beautiful place, but this experience makes me realize that a huge part of what makes Athens beautiful comes from the hundreds of volunteers who help clean up trash and plant flowers that we all see everyday.”

First-time volunteer Chase Robinson, a junior, picked up trash around East Elementary School.

“My favorite parts were definitely going around Athens to clean up and hanging out at Scripps for the concert and food afterwards,” said Robinson. “I’ll absolutely participate next year and think it is a great tradition that influences others to get involved and help the local community.”

Ruberg said the day went better than expected and heard only positive feedback from those involved.

“Not a single tool was out of place and not a single person was without a job,” said Ruberg. “Afterwards the music was great, everyone was fed and we were able to relax and enjoy what we did for the community.”

Planning for next year

The planning for next year’s Athens Beautification Day has already begun. 2013 event coordinator Melinda Ruberg said that Student Senate expects to organize a committee that will plan the event throughout the year. Its members will include representatives from the City of Athens, ODOT, Wayne National Forest, the Campus Involvement Center, and Ohio University Student Senate. Sophomore Keith Wilbur will be the director of Athens Beautification Day next year.