Volunteers clean up 40 locations in Minneapolis

Residents picked up trash for the annual Earth Day Clean Up.
Students from the Campus Atheist, Skeptics, and Humanists group help clean up the Minneapolis Riverfront Saturday morning by the Stone Arch Bridge. The volunteer effort organized by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board ran out of bags before they ran out of volunteers.
April 18, 2011

Members of the community gathered at 40 different locations throughout the city to pick up trash for the annual Minneapolis Earth Day Clean Up on Saturday.

Volunteers were provided breakfast, trash bags and gloves at the parks and neighborhoods where they worked.

For the past 15 years, the cleanup, which is the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s largest annual community-service event, has brought together volunteers to pick up thousands of pounds of trash
around the city.

In 2010, more than 3,000 volunteers picked up 15,000 pounds of trash throughout the city.

The University of Minnesota’s Student Neighborhood Liaisons program volunteered at the Father Hennepin Bluffs Park site near the Mississippi River.

“[The Mississippi] is a very strong part of our history and culture,” said David Rittenhouse of SNL and site coordinator for the Father Hennepin Bluffs Park location.

Rittenhouse said volunteers last year found a washing machine during the cleanup.

More than 40 people, about half of them University students, volunteered at the Father Hennepin site, Rittenhouse said. They picked up more than 50 bags of trash Saturday.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 to 15 years,” said Tom Lincoln of the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association. In previous years, he found a safe and a fox carcass while picking up trash. Not everything they find is trash: One person found a $100 bill last year, he said.

“The river is really the heart of the community in Northeast,” said Jacob Frey, who volunteered at the Father Hennepin site for the first time this year.

University junior Kyle LeBlanc, who volunteered at the East River Parkway cleanup site, said he filled two bags with mostly bottles and bags — he also found a razor.

Volunteers at the East River Parkway site said they found a muffler, beer cans, clothing and CDs.

Gardener Lucinda Kircher said it was the coldest cleanup day in all the years she has gone to the event. She goes each year to answer questions about gardening.

The cold didn’t stop University chemistry professor Wayland Noland from coming to the cleanup at East River Parkway. Noland said he does the cleanup every year and would pick up trash throughout the parks long before the park board established the event. Noland took the process a step further by going through the full, piled-up trash bags to separate the recycling.

After the cleanup, the First Congregational Church of Minnesota hosted a luncheon for volunteers to discuss safety issues in the community.

The park board also hosted the Recycle Run on Sunday at Lake Harriet. All of the proceeds went toward Minneapolis Earth Day Clean Up supplies.


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