AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -The 8th Annual Harrisburg Clean and Green Day brought over 200 volunteers to the neighborhood on the morning of Saturday, April 20. The event is part of Turn Back the Block, which is working to revitalize the historic Augusta neighborhood.
The volunteers could be seen at every turn, wearing bright yellow shirts and holding big yellow trash bags. Lauren Dallas, Executive Director of Turn Back the Block, said, “It’s really empowering seeing this many people come out, especially people of all ages.” One local volunteer, Tim Smail, said, “(We’re) keeping the community clean, and going from there.”
Everyone met at 8:30 a.m. and were split into groups, taking on different sections. Smail said, “We have about 8-10 people on our little team and we are probably going to come up with 6-8 bags full of trash by the end of our walk.”
Smail’s group is in one of the less traveled areas. He said in other parts of the neighborhood, teams will bring back much more trash. Dallas added, “It’s nice to see everyone come together and combine efforts to clean the streets of Harrisburg that really, really need it.”
For some volunteers, the event was a family affair. Others in the community made it a team building occasion. Tony Robinson, with Rural Sourcing Inc., said, “It’s our first time, but certainly not our last.” Smail said, “It’s all part of doing the small things to make our community great and clean, and people (will) want to be here and be outside and be part of this community.”
Robinson said, “This is awesome. This is incredible. This is a testament to the community to wanting to give back.” The impact of events like this go far beyond impacting just Harrisburg.
Smail said, “It’s part of Augusta, it’s part of our neighborhood, and as Jesus said, ‘Love our neighbors as ourselves,’ so we’re out trying to show that in the neighborhood.” Robinson added, “You work five days during the week, and it seems like a lot of work, but to come out here, you’re giving back and being fulfilled.” Doing so on a holiday weekend makes all the difference.
Dallas, who has been executive director for the past two years, sees that difference. She said, “The nice thing about it being in Easter weekend is everyone is service minded.”
As the revitalization of the historic area continues, bonds within the community will be strengthened as well. Smail said, “It’s all about growing together as a family, in Christ and in the community. That’s the important thing.”
Turn Back the Block’s next project is on fixing up some homes in the neighborhood.