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by Jackie Lewandowski / Buffalo Sabres
Keep America Beautiful (Google Images)
To ‘Keep Western New York Beautiful’, you need to clean it up.

That’s why the local chapter of ‘Keep America Beautiful’ is helping to take part in the organization’s biggest event of the year: The Great American Cleanup.

The national campaign serves to “change behaviors and improve communities through litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and beautification… by engaging individuals to take greater responsibility,” according to its Web site.

The Western New York affiliate is no exception and it is currently looking for block clubs, universities, schools, and other groups to join their clean-up efforts. 

“The Great American Cleanup reminds people of that idea, that we are all connected,” Program Coordinator Kathleen McCormick said. “Your lawn is part of it; it’s not just forests in the Midwest that we need to clean.”

The annual movement, known as “the nation's largest community improvement program, takes place annually from March 1 through May 31, involving an estimated 3 million volunteers and attendees,” according to the Web site.

Most Americans recognize the organization from the Crying Indian public service announcement that it ran in 1971, which sparked the celebration of Earth Day.  The campaigns major goal was to decrease the amount of pollution that was taking place across our nation.

Earth Day now celebrates it 40th Anniversary on April 22, 2010.

“It really is citizens taking responsibility for the environment,” McCormick said. “It’s a grassroots movement where people see a need and then organize their own events to work to make their community better.”

To aid volunteers in their efforts, Keep Western New York Beautiful works to provide bags, gloves, posters, and banners to help organize and advertise their cleanups.

This year, Keep WNY Beautiful is seeing more volunteers than ever as an estimated 7,000 people will help in the effort both this and next month. Many of these volunteers include school-age children and other young people with whom the green-minded message is resonating.

“This year in particular we are getting a lot of schools participating, and Boys and Girls Clubs,” McCormick said. “I also think that picking up and making a place look cared for creates less crime, and it makes people feel better and shows that people care.  It’s a way for people to take back their communities and for people to say ‘this is mine.’”

The cleanup efforts are also getting a large boost from the efforts of Buffalo Mayor Bryon Brown and Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, who are encouraging people all across the area to participate.

By setting up their offices as distribution sites for the organization and scheduling special pickups when there are cleanups in the area, both figures are showing their appreciation for the organization’s efforts.

“They have both been really involved in the Great American Cleanup since its beginning and have been instrumental in getting campaigns going,” McCormick said.  “There is ongoing support and we are thrilled to have that.”

In addition to cleaning up litter, volunteers will be planting trees, removing graffiti, and sprucing up gardens all throughout Western New York during the next month.

To plan your own cleanup or to join other scheduled efforts, contact Kathleen McCormick at 829-2133, Ext. 341, or via e-mail at

Also, for more healthy tips on going green at home, or to become a Green Team Member, click here.
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