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Keep Florence Beautiful volunteers really clean up
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Keep Florence Beautiful volunteers really clean up

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FLORENCE, S.C. -- Keep Florence Beautiful set up Saturday in the parking lot at Southern Hops in Florence and took note of what 25 teams collected in the way of garbage and added it to what another 15-20 teams had already collected and reported over the previous couple of weeks.

"Our teams are out cleaning and gathering trash and recyclables and they'll come here and check in and report the trash they pick up," said Michelle Bailey, chair for Keep Florence Beautiful.

The effort has "just over 500" people registered and they've collected 439 bags since March 20, Bailey said.

"We'll add on to that until June 20," Bailey said — June 20 being the official closing date of the effort.

Every bit of cleanup helps, Bailey said.

"One of the things we talk about is the life of a plastic bag," Bailey said." If you find one plastic bag on the road you don't know where it started and it'll blow all over and it eventually ends up in our waterway. Toxins that come from cigarette butts and all types of trash are not good for our environment or our waterways."

Group participating in the event this year included groups that have adopted stretches of road along with civic organizations, churches, civic groups and businesses, Bailey said.

A one-man team — an FMU student — went out on his own and filled eight trash bags along one road and then went back out Saturday and filled another four bags of trash, Bailey said.

Roger Hux, Julia Krebs, Tom Hawkins and Thelma Hawkins from John Calvin Presbyterian Church filled a dozen trash bags, collected four tires, found a two-liter-bottle drink caddy and salvaged a bicycle from areas around Edisto Drive.

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"Next to the liquor store, under the elm tree," Hux said of the bike which was holding down the dozen trash bags in the back of a pickup. "I don't think it was somebody who went in to buy groceries, I think it's been there."

Hux said he lives hear there and it is a mess. Now it is less of one.

And while the Presbyterian's trash was headed to the dump, the bicycle was destined to receive a new set of brakes and then to go to the next First-Friday event where it would likely receive a new owner.

Geraldine Cuypers and Sara Rolfe were there to log their 18 trash bags that had been collected along the rail trail near Florence Veterans Park.

A group of nine people — some city of Florence employees and others just friends — worked from 9 to 11 a.m. to gather the trash, Cuypers said.

"I see trash in a lot of these areas," said Cuypers, who collects water samples for the city. "For me it's storm water, protecting sewer water. That why I picked an area where there is a lot of trash around the water."

Allison Anderson and a crew of almost 50 people with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hit the rail trail between Walmart and Lowe's and scored an old shopping cart, part of a tarp, a wooden plank, some metal rods and 28 garbage bags full of trash.

"It was so good; people kept showing up," Anderson said as she made a list of participants so she would know how many T-shirts to get.

Bailey said the organization wasn't able to conduct the cleanup last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and this year's event was limited to essentially accepting paper and handing out T-shirts.

Next year Bailey said she hoped it would return to food-and-fun-fueled community celebration it has been in the past.

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