A clean sweep downtown

Published 8:57 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

They come wearing gloves and bearing trash bags, descending upon downtown Washington to put a little luster on the jewel of the waterfront.

They’re a strictly volunteer corps whose sole goal is to spruce up Washington for spring.

Saturday, the waterfront and parts of downtown Washington will be picked clean in the third-annual Clean Sweep. Supplies are donated by the City of Washington, but the work is donated by concerned residents who believe the coming spring is an ideal time to primp and plant.

Starting at 9 a.m., volunteers will meet at the red caboose on the corner of Main and Gladden streets and to be outfitted with gloves and bags. From there, they will comb Main Street and Stewart Parkway, making their way up Market Street to its Third Street intersection. As they go, the fruits of their efforts — full bags of garbage — will be left roadside for pickup by other volunteers.

The inaugural event came when local resident and Realtor, Scott Campbell, saw the debris left scattered by a storm. In a matter of days, Cycle North Carolina bicyclists were to descend upon Washington for their spring ride, many of them visiting the area for the first time. Campbell realized the city needed a quick pick-me-up and collected a group of people to spend a couple of hours picking up trash. They liked the results so much they decided to do it again the next year. And the next. This Saturday marks the third event.

“It’s just a little spring cleaning — doesn’t take too much effort,” said Campbell. “We have a lot of events about to kick off in town.”

Campbell stresses that all volunteers are welcome, for any amount of time and effort they may donate to the cause.

“Spend 10 minutes or three hours,” he said. “It’s just pick a spot and pick up trash — whatever you can do.”

Campbell, who owned The Flower Warehouse in Kingston, Pa., for 30 years, also encourages local businesses to do their spring planting this weekend.

“If you have planters, it’s a good time to plant them,” Campbell recommended.

In conjunction with those sweeping downtown clean, members of the Washington Garden Club will be making their way down the waterfront, weeding, pruning and mulching — prepping beds and planters for the plants that will provide lots of spring color, said Campbell.

Traditionally, volunteers have come from the Washington Harbor District Alliance, the Washington Area Historic Foundation, the Washington Garden Club and downtown residents, but Campbell stresses any and all are welcome.

However, being mindful of the beauty of our surroundings doesn’t have to be limited to Saturday’s single event, he said, as he encouraged all to donate a little time and effort to keep it clean every day.

“Keep it in mind,” he advised. “If you happen to see some trash blowing around, pick it up.”

Clean Sweep runs from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday. The public is invited to participate.