Scouring the banks and streams of the Chattahoochee River, about 9,500 volunteers turned out for the 19th annual Help the Hooch river cleanup in the region, officials said Saturday.
We are absolutely thrilled at the turnout, said Jenn Collins, director of outreach for the Chattahoochee RiverWarden and chair of Help the Hooch. The community has been fantastic.
Volunteers ended the three-day cleanup with lunch at the Watershed Festival in Golden Park. Along with the hot dogs, the event featured free T-shirts, games and water related activities.
Over the last three days, Collins said 6,000 volunteers completed cleanups Thursday at Fort Benning and Friday at school systems in Phenix City and Columbus. Saturdays cleanup included volunteers from Scout troops, churches, neighborhood associations and other groups along the river.
The largest cleanup in the southeast attracted about 1,000 more volunteers than last year, Collins said. I can tell you since 2006, the organization has picked up more than 1 million pounds of trash, she said.
The tally from the cleanup wont be available until all the trash is weighed.
William Kent, a volunteer with the effort for 19 years and manager of water quality at the Columbus Water Works, said the river hasnt been impacted by the 2.5 mile Chattahoochee whitewater course. The Water Works has tested the water three times daily, everyday during the year.
Hope Elser led Girl Scout Troop 50336 from Clubview Elementary to pick up litter along the Chattahoochee Riverwalk between the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and Golden Park. It wasnt bad, Elser said. We got a whole bag of trash with the few people we had.
Underwear, diapers, old clothes and other items were among the trash picked up by the 18 children and adults in the group. This is our third year having the Troop participating, Elser said. They love it. We love it too because we get out and get some exercise.
David Grant, assistant scout master for Cub Scout Pack 155 at Faith Tabernacle Community Church, said 20 boys gathered 15 bags of trash from Oxbow Meadows. The pack picked up bottles, cans, liquor bottles, coolers and whole tires near the banks of the river.
When the river floods and the river goes down, it leaves the trash there, he said. The boys enjoyed themselves. This is our fourth year.
Scout Master Latimer Thrash said the cleanup effort gets the boys off to the right start in serving the world. Teach them now, they are going to carry it with them, he said.