(This piece was originally published on May 21, 2017 in the Herald Bulletin.)

ANDERSON — Before they were interrupted by a heavy thunderstorm, volunteers spread across the city Saturday to help bring beauty back to Anderson.

“It’s kind of sad how much trash there is out here,” said Claire Popa, who worked with the Hoosier Environmental Council to clean up trash along the White River. “I’m trying to make a difference.”

Volunteers for the 32nd Annual Rev. J.T. Menifee Citywide Cleanup included street sweeps for stray trash. The city cleanup also included a tire, paint, appliance and electronic drop-off location at Athletic Park.

The Hoosier Environmental Council, Heart of the River and White River Watchers of Madison County also brought together around 50 volunteers for the River Greenway Cleanup which, though unrelated to the city cleanup, still looked to help beautify Anderson.

“This helps show that there are people who care about this resource and put their money where their mouth is and spend a day out here picking up the river,” said Michael Popa with the HEC.

This is the first year the three groups have come together for a targeted river cleanup to help advertise the group’s proposal, called the Mounds Greenway Trail, which would connect Muncie and Anderson along a walking trail that would snake along with the White River.

Bill Evans said he came out Saturday to restore some “natural beauty” to the river’s lesser visited areas.

“We’re doing our part, love the lake and we’re doing what we can do to make it better,” he said. “I’ve grown up along rivers and I always had an appreciation for nature and understanding the natural balance.”

Thad Kissick lives in Muncie, but said he often rides his bike along the river and said he came out Saturday to show his support for the greenway.

“I thought it would be nice way to revitalize the river,” he said. “And if it can bring some light on the greenway, even better.”

Last year the cleanup included 300 volunteers who disposed of 437 tons of debris, two semitractor-trailers full of tires, two box trucks’ worth of televisions and more than 16,000 electronics.

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