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Hundreds gather to kick off 'Stash the Trash' event Friday

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Hundreds of city and county employees, as well as other volunteers, gathered in front of the government center Friday morning to kick off a citywide cleanup effort.

Boasting a record number of volunteers, officials said they're confident that the level of participation is indicative of a desire through all facets of the community to clean up the city.

"It's a bit overwhelming," Judy Bowles, the executive director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, said. "The phone calls and pledges to help, I think, show that people understand that litter is more than just trash, it's a quality-of-life issue."

Friday morning's event began with words from Dougherty County Commissioner Chuck Lingle and Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard before volunteers split into three groups and dispersed through the downtown corridor.

"I've always believed in the saying that people should mind their own doorsteps," Howard said. "But sometimes, when they don't, you have to have people to step up and do it. Now let's get out there and have fun picking up other people's trash."

Lingle's comments were in the same vein, but he also commended those who came out willing to help.

"You all should be proud of yourselves for stepping up and coming out this morning to help," he said.

While the groups did have to disperse farther than usual because of recent cleanup efforts downtown, it didn't take long for them to find what they were looking for.

Charles Arnold and Joe Godfrey, two local attorneys attached to the Dougherty County Public Defender's Office, struck trashy gold when Godfrey found a tire in the median of the 300 block of Broad Avenue.

"It's good to get out here and do something positive for the community," Arnold said, as he was lifting a cola can into his trash bag. "But Joe's claimed that tire. He's got that all to himself, but I don't think it'll quite fit into these bags."

Friday's event is a prelude to a larger, citywide event set to begin this morning in Albany neighborhoods, Bowles said.

More than 2,600 volunteers have pledged their time to "Stash the Trash" in neighborhoods throughout Albany.

The program is in its 20th year, Bowles said.