Waveland kicks off Great American Clean-Up

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The national spotlight shined on Waveland Tuesday. The Keep America Beautiful campaign chose that city to kickoff the annual Great American Clean-Up.

Hundreds of volunteers spent the day beautifying the community. Bright sun and cold temperatures greeted the large group of bundled-up volunteers.

"All across America they're going to be cleaning up, greening up, fixing up," said Gail Cunningham with Keep America Beautiful.

Waveland's mayor called it perfect timing for his still-recovering city.

"This will be the single largest project that will enhance and beautify, lift people's spirits and morale throughout our community," said a smiling Mayor Tommy Longo.

Once the celebration was over, volunteers fanned out across the community cleaning-up parks and playgrounds and public streets.

"We've got some killer weeds here!" said Jeannie Bigler as she worked the business end of a rake.

She and Carol Washington were among the volunteers from the local Lowe's. They helped improve Gex Park.

"It's a great feeling. We have the kids and everyone in the community involved with it. A good feeling," said Washington.

"We moved here right after the storm. And we're giving back to the community," Bigler said.

Students from Maryland are spending spring break volunteering in Hancock County.

"We do spring break outreach, which is like alternative spring break where we do community service instead of like going to the beach or going home for break," said Liz Parolski from Loyola College in Baltimore.

"I could be on the beach. But I felt like it's time for me to give back. I feel we have a lot to offer the community," said Loyola College student Ashley Williams.

Bay High 9th grader Rachel Turnbough received special recognition for her volunteerism. She's a regular volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club and took part in the big clean-up.

"We're trying to boost our tourism again and get all the people back down here and have everybody move back and it's just wonderful to see all this," said the 15-year-old Turnbough.

The national Great American Clean-Up involves some three million volunteers and more than 30,000 projects across the country.