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April 02, 2015 : Proctorville Center Lends Helping Hands in Annual Cleanup Effort
When Lawrence County, Ohio held its annual Operation TLC cleanup effort last weekend, students from the Ohio University Proctorville Center saw an opportunity to get involved in something special. What began as one woman’s passion for a litter-free neighborhood more than ten years ago has since blossomed into a community-wide effort that brings together residents, business professionals, and student volunteers who are committed to Tidy-Up Lawrence County (TLC).
Back in 2004, Billie Smith and several of her friends met with the Lawrence County planning commissioner and the group soon organized its first major cleanup effort with nearly 150 volunteers on hand. “I remember how good we all felt that we were doing something that improved our neighborhoods. That still holds true for many of us today.  When you come out here, you see parents with their kids, as well as retirees and college students working together towards a common goal,” she said. Volunteers are provided bags, gloves, doughnuts, coffee, and water.  They are assigned a specific cleanup area for the day.
One of the main stretches of road that often serves as a dumping ground for random trash also leads to the Proctorville Center. Stephanie Burcham, director for the Center, says being actively involved in this type of project is important in ways that extend beyond the classroom. “Many of the same people who we walk alongside the roads with to pick up trash and debris are the same ones who helped support the Center’s construction efforts years ago. We all need to be responsible citizens and do our part to keep things clean and beautiful,” she said.
Lora Hastings, a sophomore majoring in health services administration and long-term care, participated in the cleanup effort along with her dad. As a resident of Proctorville, she was surprised by the volume of trash collected last weekend along the stretch of road that leads to the Proctorville Center. “By the time we finished, there were 16 bags of garbage. “It’s kind of gross, but also makes you think about the impact of tossing even one can or bag on the side of the road,” Lora said.