The 15th annual Sandusky River Clean Sweep to set to take place Aug. 31. Volunteer numbers look good with a combination of new and veteran cleaners.
"Anytime you can connect people with the river it helps to open both their minds and hearts to the need for restoration and preservation," said Cindy Brookes, director of Sandusky River Watershed Coalition. "The removal of the types of trash and debris the Clean Sweep removes helps us all to realize what we as humans do to our waterways. Also, once people are out in and near the water, they see first-hand the color of the water, which is never clear blue like in pictures. It helps them realize there is work to be done to improve water quality."
Suggestions for new cleanup sites are welcome, she said.
"I do take suggestions for sites and see if they are workable," Brookes said. "Since the river levels had been higher, I have not completely finalized the list so I am still open for suggestions."
"We're always looking for new places to clean," agreed Andria Marquis, education specialist with Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca Solid Waste District.
Coordinators don't publicize cleanup sites in advance because volunteers are required to check in and sign a waiver before they can participate.
"This is a stipulation of both the city of Tiffin and Seneca County as sponsors of the event," Brookes said.
Although the cleanup is later in the August than usual, Marquis said it was the best date coordinators could agree on.
The date during Labor Day weekend has meant some of the usual volunteers can't make it. But having the cleanup after school is back in session has meant the addition of new young volunteers. Young volunteers from high school and college are signed up to help, she said.
"We're not lacking for volunteers at this point," Marquis said. "Of course, we have a lot of past participants that have called to sign up too, some of the ones that have been around since the very beginning."
Marquis reminds volunteers to "wear the oldest clothes you have the oldest shoes you own."
On cleanup day, volunteers are required to register 8-8:45 am. at shelter 6 in the lower level of Hedges-Boyer Park and sign a waiver before they can participate.
Seneca County Agency Transportation buses will be available to transport people to their assigned cleanup sites. Cleanup is to take place 9 a.m.-noon.
Volunteers then are returned to the park by bus for a picnic lunch, door prizes, educational displays and activities.
New this year is the assistance of Chris Monsour to help lead the annual project. He administered the Facebook page and helped in other ways, Marquis said.
"I am a biology teacher at Tiffin Columbian, where I am also the advisor of the TC Bioclub," Monsour said. "I have been involved with the river cleanup for a few years."
While the BioClub was helping with the community Earth Day celebration last spring, he said he asked how he could help with the cleanup.
"I feel strongly about the health of the Sandusky and I think many people do not think about how fortunate it is we have a scenic river running through downtown," he said. "I think if people took some time to get out on the river and clean it up, they would have a better appreciation for the Sandusky.
"The Sandusky River is so important to our community that we've got to take every opportunity we can to protect it, for us and for future generations," he said. "Keeping it clean is one way that the citizens of TIffin can do their part for the river that impacts us in so many ways."
Marquis said many new donors have stepped up this year.
"Businesses have been more than generous with donations and with food," she said. "I just can't believe what a generous community we have."
Anyone who would like to volunteer should download a form from the cleanup's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sanduskyrivercleansweep2013, call Marquis at (419) 937-4374 or contact Monsour at (419) 618-1477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.