Saturday brought soft rain and a flood of volunteers to the neighborhood.
The annual Mountain View Community Cleanup began April 28 with a block-by-block sweep: About 10 dozen people signed up to help, gathering orange trash bags and aluminum pickup sticks at Lyons Park before heading out into the neighborhood to clear the streets and sidewalks. Organized by the Mountain View Community Council, the event has been a volunteer-powered tradition for more than 25 years.
“I’ve got to admit, I look forward to it,” said Mountain View resident Al Rice, carrying a garbage bag down Parsons Avenue Saturday afternoon. “Not cause it’s fun, obviously, but just because it’s nice to get the neighborhood looking good again.”
It’s a group effort. Under a row of tents set up on the lawn behind the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club on Price Street, volunteers from Mountain View Hope Covenant Church ran a volunteer check-in table and distributed neighborhood maps, trash bags, pickup sticks and matching blue t-shirts for cleanup participants. Pop music played over a speaker system. At lunch, families spread out across the grass and filled up on plates of steamed rice, pork and chicken from Hula Hands.
The volunteers were Mountain View residents and members of neighborhood churches, including large groups from Mountain View Hope and True North Church. Some traveled from South Anchorage and Eagle River to participate in Saturday’s cleanup.
“This is where we do church, and we want to be involved with what’s happening in the community,” said True North member Megan Benware, who drove from the south side of town to help clean North Bragaw Street Saturday.
Mountain View resident Ebony Ramos also brought a crowd to the cleanup — her friend, her roommate, her two kids and three neighbor kids. After moving into Mountain View last fall and seeing a flyer advertising the community cleanup this spring, she said she was happy for the opportunity to get out in the neighborhood.
“I love to volunteer,” she said.
The Saturday event was the first phase of the weeklong community cleanup. On Tuesday, the Price Street parking lot will transform into a temporary disposal site for neighborhood refuse, complete with four 40 and 50-yard containers and a front-end loader to pack down the trash, cleanup organizers said. Mountain View residents can drop off old furniture, broken appliances and other junk May 1-5. Solid Waste Services donated more than a dozen dump passes, American Tire and Auto donated the use of a box truck to haul away tires for free and Central Recycling Services donated metal disposal, said MVCC Treasurer Daniel George. State grants and private donations pay for the rest, he said.
By the time all is said and done, organizers expect this year’s cleanup to collect approximately 100 tons of trash from the neighborhood. It starts small. Over the course of four hours Saturday, volunteers scoured the neighborhood for litter, collecting everything from crushed cans, bottles and cigarette butts to soggy bits of paper, wrappers and the occasional needle. To Rice, who also volunteers cleaning bus stops along Mountain View’s Route 21, the work is part of a bigger picture.
“You know there’s an old adage that an old mentor of mine taught me, and that is, ‘If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves,’” Rice said, hauling a bulging orange trash bag back to the dumpster in the parking lot on Price Street. “So I’m out here picking up the little things.”