Rolling up shirt sleeves for a community cleanup can have more than just a visual impact on your community. For example, a recent study from south of the border showed cleaning up 75 percent of the debris on one California beach would result in a US$46 million boost to the county’s economy. Another U.S. study showed cleaning up a three-mile stretch (just under five kilometres) of Flint, Mich., reduced crime by more than half over the course of four years. Here in Canada, citizens seem eager to put in some elbow grease; last spring, more than 185,000 volunteers participated in the Clean Toronto Together initiative to spruce up public spaces.
With next spring just around the corner, there’s no better time to start planning a community cleanup in your area. All it takes is a little planning, community member recruitment and volunteer thank-you gifts. Let’s get started!
Pick a target area
Focus on one or two projects that will have the most significant impact. Cleanup can take many forms, including:
- Trash and litter collection
- Beautification projects
- Flower planting
- Beach or river cleanups
Pick an area and a project, then select a date. Saturdays work best, and half-days are even better for getting the local community to pitch in.
Publicize your cleanup to find volunteers
Once you’ve got a date and project, it’s time to recruit volunteers. Promote the community cleanup on your website and social channels. Ask local service clubs for volunteers. And, send out a postcard with dates, times, needs and contact information with a clear call to action to ensure greater signup.
Gather your supplies
Depending on the nature of the project, your supply needs will vary. Planting flowers? A garden shovel and some seed packets will help your garden grow. Buy extra shovels and seeds—they make excellent volunteer thank-you gifts!
Painting and repairing houses, fences or businesses? A utility tote will help keep tools and supplies organized and easy to find. Or give your construction volunteers multi-tools that will let them make quick fixes while they’re working. You can even let volunteers keep them as participation gifts when the work is done.
Appreciate your volunteers
Successful cleanups require great volunteers. Show your appreciation with participation gifts. A T-Shirt can serve as the perfect giveaway and a way to bond your volunteer team. Add a trail mix snack to nourish hungry volunteers during the cleanup.
Good neighbours make for beautiful neighbourhoods
Cleaning up a community doesn’t just lower crime and add value to a neighbourhood, it also brings people together as they help to make the place they live just a little bit better. Make sure your community recruits know how much they’re appreciated with social media shout-outs, thank-you notes and volunteer thank-you gifts. Happy spring cleaning!