Athens Beautification Day-1

Ohio University students remove litter, including cigarette butts, from the sidewalks of uptown Athens during Athens Beautification Day.

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

Athens Beautification Day-2

Ohio University students who volunteered for Athens Beautification Day walk along Court Street collecting litter and recyclables.

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

Athens Beautification Day-3

Gary Chancey from the Wayne National Forest and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl introduce Rose Troyer, the off-campus life commissioner for Student Senate and director of this year’s Athens Beautification Day.

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

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OHIO students, community members spend day beautifying Athens

More than 1,000 Ohio University students partnered with members of the local community this past weekend to spruce up the city of Athens and other Athens County communities.

Ohio University’s Student Senate kicked off its annual Athens Beautification Day on Sunday, April 13, on the College Green. This year marked the 10th anniversary of Athens Beautification Day, one of the city’s largest community service days.

“For the first time we have had a large number of people from the community volunteer for the event,” said Rose Troyer, the off-campus life commissioner for Student Senate and director of this year’s Athens Beautification Day. “Relationships are developing between students and community members that may not have been formed in the past.”

The sunny day provided the perfect setting for volunteers to participate in more than 50 projects within the city of Athens and surrounding areas. Some of those projects included cleanups, restoration and landscaping work at locations such as the Athens Community Center, the cemetery at The Ridges and the Timothy House. This year’s event was also expanded to include projects in the nearby communities of The Plains, Nelsonville and Coolville.

“It is a beautiful day, and people are stopping us on the street to say thank you,” said Sarah Lathrop, a senior at OHIO studying early childhood education who was participating in her third Athens Beautification Day. “Athens is where we live, and we wouldn’t want to trash our own home.”

This year’s event promoted zero waste, and the t-shirts provided to volunteers were made from 50 percent recycled material. In addition, event organizers set up stations around the College Green to educate volunteers on what is trash and what can be recycled. Among the items that were labeled recyclable were cigarette butts, which can be used to make park benches.

Athens Beautification Day kicked off with a pep rally on the College Green featuring speeches from Ryan Lombardi, OHIO’s vice president for student affairs; Gary Chancey, public affairs staff officer for the Wayne National Forest; Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl; and Troyer.

“I cannot thank you enough for helping the Athens community,” Lombardi said to those who volunteered for the day. “It is our time to give back to this great place we live.”

Chancey expressed his appreciation for the teams of volunteers assigned to cleanup efforts at the Wayne National Forest. He encouraged all volunteers to post updates of their work on Twitter using the #KeepAmericaBeautiful hashtag, stating that doing so would allow the projects being completed in Athens County to be followed around the world.

Chancey presented Troyer with a certificate from Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful for her many hours of service in planning and implementing the event. Troyer is a junior at OHIO majoring in strategic communications and minoring in political science. This is her second year as a member of the Student Senate.

Many campus groups and organizations participated in this year’s event, including Habitat for Humanity, the Air Force ROTC, students who live in Gamertsfelder and Tiffin Halls, and the Women’s Club Soccer Team.

“I had heard about the event in past semesters and wanted to be a part of it this year,” said Elizabeth Roth, a first-year student majoring in actuarial science. Roth is a resident of Tiffin Hall who volunteered for Athens Beautification Day with her roommates. “Even if the residence halls didn’t participate, I would have gotten a group together. It’s a good cause.”

Following the cleanup, volunteers were treated to food provided by Kiser’s BBQ and Goodfella’s pizza and music by acoustic band Wormz and the Decomposers.

“This event is taking the campus by storm,” Troyer said, noting the potential impact OHIO students can have on the community. “There are 20,000 students just in undergrad. That is a huge potential.”