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Recognize our true local heroes
Keep Liberty Beautiful
0501 City cleanup 1
Great American Cleanup volunteers pose for a group photo April 23 in downtown Hinesvilles Bradwell Park before heading out to pick up litter and other debris in the community. - photo by Photo provided.

In a coastal county like ours, water truly is everywhere. Liberty County has an abundance of wetlands, marshes, rivers, creeks and, of course, access to the Atlantic Ocean. We are fortunate, but we also have a distinct responsibility to this wealth of water spaces. We need to take care of them and protect the birds and aquatic life forms that depend on these water sources, just as humans do. When these creatures show signs of problems because their environment has been tainted, you can count on the issue working its way up the food chain to us. We should all care about our waterways. Thankfully, a good number of Liberty County residents do.
Keep Liberty Beautiful and Liberty County recently were recognized with an award at the annual Rivers Alive awards luncheon in Atlanta. I am extremely proud of the recognition we have received for our program efforts here. In the past four years, Liberty County has received more than a dozen state and national awards for various litter-prevention projects, recycling efforts, and community-improvement and educational programming. This is the first from Rivers Alive, so it is particularly meaningful.
Rivers Alive is Georgia’s annual volunteer waterway cleanup campaign that targets all waterways in the state, including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches and wetlands. Rivers Alive’s mission is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia’s water resources. Rivers Alive, which is held each fall, is sponsored by the DNR Environmental Protection Division’s Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Keep Georgia Beautiful program.
Georgia’s 70,150 miles of streams and rivers need our help. Our waterways provide us with fresh drinking water and great recreational opportunities like canoeing and fishing. They serve as a pleasant respite from our busy day-to-day lives. Volunteering with Rivers Alive is an opportunity to help protect one of our most precious resources — our water.
In Liberty County and across the state, Rivers Alive volunteers come from all walks of life — nonprofit organizations, corporations, community and civic groups, youth and school groups, faith-based groups, individuals, and governmental and municipal agencies. These volunteers are just like the rest of us. They have jobs and families and many other responsibilities to keep up with. So why do they give several hours of their time to this cleanup effort? Because they care.
I do not take this for granted. Every day I am reminded of how fortunate I am to work with sincerely dedicated KLB advisory board volunteers, supportive coworkers, bosses and civic officials. These cleanup efforts would not be possible without the community leaders who work together to promote our programs.
But I know who the real award-winning heroes are. They are the moms who wake their children up on Saturday mornings and bring them out to make sure they understand that citizenship involves effort. They are the dads who would rather be playing golf or fishing, but they lead by example and bring their kids, scouts or youth groups to help us clean up the community. The heroes are the public officials who I know spend all week dealing with local constituents’ concerns and issues and they still make time to pick up trash or clean waterways on the weekends. They are the teenagers who choose to fulfill their school community service requirements by participating in a cleanup because they want to help the environment. The award winners are the 400 folks who did not have to donate their time to volunteer efforts but did anyway because they care.
You guys truly are award winners every day of the year. I don’t need a state award to know that — I’m already well aware.
Do you want to make a difference? There is still time to participate in this spring’s Great American Cleanup. Organize a cleanup for your organization, church group, family or neighborhood today. Call 880-4888 or email for more information. Our volunteer appreciation is scheduled for Thursday, May 26, so mark your calendars now.

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