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2013 GAC in Oklahoma

Imagine more than five million pounds of litter, debris, and waste. Now imagine it is gone.

For the eleventh consecutive year Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB), the statewide affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, took part in the nation’s largest annual cleanup program. Across all 77 counties, more than five million pounds of litter was cleaned up during the 2013 Great American Cleanup™ (GAC) in Oklahoma held March through May.

Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup™ is the nation’s largest annual community involvement program. Millions of volunteers across the nation participate each year. This year Oklahoma had more than 60,000 volunteers and participants involved. The GAC is about more than just picking up trash around the state. It gives our state the opportunity for beautification projects that might not be done otherwise.

With support from their statewide sponsor, Devon Energy, KOB is able to expand program reach and reward environmental excellence. In 2012, Devon joined forces with KOB as the first statewide sponsor of the GAC, and Devon came back for more in 2013.

“We are pleased and proud to support the Great American Cleanup™ in Oklahoma again this year,” said Wendi Schuur, Community Relations director for Devon. “Clean, healthy and safe communities benefit everyone, and we welcome the opportunity to help those who are working to make it happen.”

The community involvement shows just how much pride Oklahomans have in this great state. From 4H clubs, to local small businesses, to corporations like Devon Energy–no group is too big or too small to work together during GAC. Participating groups include scouting troops, civic organizations, chamber beautification committees, schools, families, businesses, adopt-a-highway groups, sports teams, municipalities and county governments.

KOB is one of three states in the history of the program to achieve 100 percent county participation. This accomplishment has been achieved for the past four years and recognized by Keep America Beautiful.

The “Big Number” for Oklahoma is $5,778,822. The “Big Number” represents the money saved or costs avoided by state, county, and municipal governments as a result of the GAC – just in Oklahoma.

One outstanding effort during the Great American Cleanup is recognized with the Devon GAC Achievement Award. This prestigious award is presented in November at the annual KOB Environmental Excellence Award Celebration. The winners of the award receive a stone plaque as well as a cash prize of $1,000.

Last year, the award was presented to KOB’s Affiliate, Pride in McAlester,  a non-profit organization with a mission to clean up and keep up the McAlester community for residents and visitors to enjoy. In 2012, Pride In McAlester collected 418,976 pounds of waste in their community. This included bulk waste, tires, prescription drugs, electronics, paper, metal, and household hazardous wastes. Again in 2013, they collected over 100,000 pounds more than the year before.

For 2013, Pride in McAlester’s GAC events began with an awareness campaign in March where they gave presentations and recruited volunteers at several community events and meetings. Staff and volunteers conducted various workshops at McAlester’s alternative high school, Key Academy. Students were taught what items are reusable, recyclable, or just down right landfill bound. They also discussed different ways to practice being green in their day to day lives.

On April 6, bins were placed in a parking lot for bulk trash disposal, tire and metal recycling, and electronics recycling. The event was free to McAlester residents and available every weekend through April 27. After that, the event expanded to collect household hazardous waste and prescription drug disposal. During the month of April alone, 1,953 people in 1,248 vehicles came through the cleanup site.

Their efforts continued as Pride In McAlester planted a dozen trees around the town thanks to funding from Public Service Company of Oklahoma. They also held projects to paint light poles, benches, and fire hydrants downtown, as well as painting the historic and well traveled Washington Street bridge. How inspiring!

This effort is just one effort out of the nearly 300 communities that participated in the spring of 2013. KOB recognizes and appreciates all the work and dedication put in by all of the wonderful communities in Oklahoma. Every project, big or small is an improvement and a step towards beautification. It is wonderful to see all of the progress happening in the different counties and meeting the kindhearted folks in this great state.

“It’s incredible that we have so many participants from every corner of the state. The GAC in Oklahoma helps bring communities together,” KOB Projects Coordinator Jordan Scott said. “Not to mention, cleanup events like these will usually lead to year round commitments that transform Oklahoma and leave its citizens feeling proud of our state.”

Businesses, groups, or organizations wishing to participate in the 2014 GAC must register with KOB. Through its affiliation with Keep America Beautiful, GAC statewide sponsor Devon Energy, the national GAC sponsors and other partners, KOB is able to offer registered groups in the GAC FREE supplies and support materials for their projects. These materials include posters, banners, trash bags, media kits, public relations assistance, creative ideas for projects, guidelines for volunteers, etc.

For more information about KOB programs, the Great American Cleanup™ in Oklahoma or to see if your community participates in the GAC, please visitwww.keepoklahomabeautiful.com