Grassroots Cleanup Efforts Tackle Winter Trash

By the time the spring season rolls around, most people in Kalamazoo are ready to ditch their heavy coats, tuck their boots away, and welcome all that comes with warmer weather. As the mercury rises the melting snow oftentimes reveals trash that has stayed hidden during the winter months. Seeing the need to tackle trash head-on, volunteers took charge this month and donated their time to keeping downtown clean and beautiful.

A handful of volunteers braved the cold and wind on April 10th to help Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. during their annual Cleanup Day. Volunteers, who ranged from a young entrepreneur studying at Loy Norrix High School to a gentleman visiting from California, picked up everything from old blue jeans and cigarette butts to car parts and soda bottles.

Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. volunteers enjoying lunch as a group after their cleanup efforts

Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. volunteers enjoying lunch as a group after their cleanup efforts

“It’s much easier to tackle trash as a group rather than on your own,” volunteer and downtown resident Brendan Von Koss said.

While he jumped at the opportunity to join the group to lend a hand, Von Koss has been known to head out on his own to grab stray pieces of debris that have evaded trashcans. When asked why he takes it upon himself to pick up trash now and then, he’s quick to point out that downtown is his backyard and he wants it to remain beautiful.

Greenleaf Hospitality Group employees picking up trash on April 15th

Greenleaf Hospitality Group employees picking up trash on April 15th

A new grassroots beautification effort was cooked up this year by staff of the Greenleaf Hospitality Group at the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites. Led by Derrick Ricca, Senior Sales Manager, staff set out to clean a 36-block section of downtown. Some may be surprised by Greenleaf’s commitment to tackle trash, but for a hotel that was awarded the 2014 Responsible Business Award, their take-charge approach is business as usual.

“We’re in the hospitality industry and it’s not in our culture to complain,” Ricca said. “We saw a need and we knew we could make an impact so we put our heads together and came up with a plan.”

Ricca and staff spent the afternoon of April 15th in and around downtown cleaning up, and introduced a bit of friendly competition by awarding prizes to those with the most interesting find and the most trash collected. He was pleased to share that there was far less trash to be collected than he and staff anticipated, but what was on the ground is now in the trash.

Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. would like to thank all volunteers for their efforts in keeping downtown Kalamazoo litter-free. For more information about how you can get involved in keeping downtown Kalamazoo beautiful, contact Meg Gernaat at mgernaat@dki.org or 269.344.0795. For other volunteer opportunities, click here.

Greenleaf Hospitality Group employees volunteering to beautify downtown Kalamazoo

Greenleaf Hospitality Group employees volunteering to beautify downtown Kalamazoo

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