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Editorial: Volunteers keep America, Topeka beautiful
Posted: March 16, 2015 – 6:48pm
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By The Capital-Journal

Area volunteers with the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful of Topeka and Shawnee County clearly are doing something right.
The local chapter logged 500,000 volunteer hours in the past year, and its efforts have been recognized on a national scale. Each year, the national Keep America Beautiful organization bestows 36 awards — three awards in each of 12 categories — and this year KAB Topeka and Shawnee County won eight of those national honors. The local chapter is one of 700 from around the country. Kudos to the many individuals and businesses who donate their time, talent and treasure to ensure that we have a more beautiful and welcoming community.

The local chapter congratulated the winners at its annual luncheon last week. They include Hultquist Landscapes, Strathman Sales, Waste Management of Kansas, Topeka City Channel 4, Topeka Housing Authority, Silverbackks, ShareFest and CMK Service for Change. The chapter itself won the President’s Circle Award and first place for Great American Cleanup Best Activation.

Executive director Philicia McKee said she thinks the hands-on nature of the work draws many volunteers. “We get down in the trenches,” she said. “We pick up litter. I think that appeals to a lot of people. They feel like they’re making a difference.” Keep America Beautiful of Topeka and Shawnee County brings together area volunteers to partner with city, county and state governments to clean up the community. It promotes beautification, recycling, litter reduction and graffiti removal.

Those 500,000 volunteer hours are valued at $13 million, a significant savings to taxpayers for efforts that benefit the community at large.
The job of these volunteers is never done, however, and more assistance is always welcomed. With the snow now melted away, the results of those wind-whipped winter days we endured are evident along the sides of many area roadways, where trash has come to rest.

In just a few weeks, the organization will be hosting one of its largest annual events, Get Down and Get Dirty, on Saturday, April 25. The event, where teams of volunteers spread throughout the city for cleanup projects, attracted nearly 1,600 volunteers last year. Volunteers can sign up by emailing kab@kabtopsh.org or calling (785) 224-0446.

We all can be inspired by these volunteers to get out and do our part.
We hosted Students Today Leaders Forever from the University of Minnesota today as they cleaned up Wanamaker Road. It was a pleasure to witness their enthusiasm as they serve others on their spring break “Pay It Forward Tour.” With their willingness to help, their experiences, their education, they will truly be our future leaders. Not only did they serve Topeka and Shawnee County, they helped us demonstrate to others that it is not acceptable to litter in our community, and they set an example for youth everywhere that giving back and giving of ourselves is critical. Thanks to the students of University of Minnesota for making Topeka one of their tour stops. We wish them well!

Teams are forming now for Get Down and Get Dirty. We anticipate this being our largest event EVER! Last year we had nearly 1,600 volunteers participate.

This year we will hold GDGD on Saturday, April 25. Don’t miss the opportunity to help clean up our community!

This year’s sponsors are: Custom Tree Care, Strathman Sales, Waste Management of Kansas, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola of Topeka.

Contact Philicia to register your team today: kab@kabtopsh.org or 785.224.0446

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In the Spotlight

SpotlightThis part of our new website will be dedicated to featuring businesses or individuals who follow good environmental practices.  If you would like to see your business featured here, or if you would like to honor an individual for their best environmental efforts who give back to this community, please send information to kab@kabtopsh.org

Topeka Community Cycle Project works to broaden access to cycling in Topeka through hands-on education and bike repair. We know that bikes can lead to self-reliance, sustainability and healthful living, so to that end, we are committed to the reclamation and distribution of new and used bicycles to community members. TCCP is located in downtown Topeka, Kansas. http://cycleproject.org/

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