Beautification volunteers happy to adjust

A scene from the 2018 Great American Cleanup. (Photo from Keep Covington Beautiful)

April’s massive Great American Cleanup now fall event(s) 

COVINGTON, Ky. - With two neighborhood cleanup events this weekend and more to come, pandemic-related restrictions are proving no barrier for tenacious Keep Covington Beautiful volunteers who #LoveTheCov.
In typical years, the Great American Cleanup - billed as the largest annual volunteer event in the City - sees 700-800 people descend on corner parks, wooded areas, medians, alleys, and “problem spots” in Covington on a select weekend in April, where they do everything from plant flowers to pick up litter, spread mulch, paint, and prune bushes.
This year’s event didn’t happen because of COVID-19. But what initially was thought to be a cancelation turned out to be only a delay.
In other words, the spring-time Great American Cleanup is still happening, but it’s happening in late summer and fall with safety protocols and a different format:
“Instead of one big day where everyone registers a bunch of sites all over the city at the same time, we’re encouraging people to stagger events out in space and time between now and the end of September,” said Shannon Ratterman, who works closely with Keep Covington Beautiful at The Center for Great Neighborhoods.
“The need is still there and people still want to help,” Ratterman explained. “Under this format, the dedicated passion is still there but the ‘socializing’ will just be lessened.”
One local event has already occurred (in Westside) and two have been rained out. This weekend there will be two more, and several events are in various stages of being scheduled: 
  • Helentown & Austinburg, 9 a.m. Saturday. (Pick up supplies at 16th and Garrard), HERE.
  • 17th Street and Woodburn Avenue, 9 a.m. Saturday, HERE.
  • East 7th Street & Legacy Alley, 9 a.m. Sept. 5, HERE.
  • East 5th Street & Surrounding Area, 9 a.m. Sept. 12 (Meet at Community Montessori School, which is organizing the event), HERE.
  • Mutter Gottes/Old Town Neighborhood, Sept. 26.
  • Goebel Park & Kenney Shields Park, date to be determined (led by the Covington Street Hockey League). 
Volunteer registration for the events is suggested to help with supplies.
Money available
KCB is encouraging neighborhood groups and others to organize more small cleanup and beautification events, which they can do HERE.
KCB is giving $250 grants to organizers to buy supplies like flowers, mulch, and paint. The grant application is on the same page.
Ratterman said this year there is an added incentive: A competition. The neighborhood event that picks up the most litter, by weight, will earn the right to become the site of KCB’s “Perk Up the Neighborhood” project, which includes a commitment of $4,000 toward beautifying that neighborhood.
Ratterman said the project could include public art, banners, neighborhood flowerpots, tree plantings and/or the like.
Safety first
Organizers will be providing litter grabbers, bags, gloves, buckets, hand sanitizers, disinfectant, snacks, and a $5 gift card to a local business for all adult volunteers.
Ratterman said organizers and volunteers are expected to abide by safety protocols designed to limit close contact and slow the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory disease.
Among the rules/guidelines:
  • Don’t linger at supply pickup spots but quickly fan out to do the work.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from those not in your household.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Sanitize hands frequently.
  • Don’t share tools. 
Sheila Fields, Solid Waste & Recycling Coordinator in the City’s Neighborhood Services Department, noted that the City would swing by the sites on Monday to pick up the collected debris and trash and dispose of them properly.
“Every year we look forward to being part of this awesome beautification event,” Fields said. “The City is fortunate to have not only a great partnership with KCB but also a large number of committed volunteers who are willing to donate time and sweat equity toward the cause. As a result, Covington is just that much more beautiful.”
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