Volunteers are Needed to Help Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

Published Dunndeal Gazettes, January 2023

The Tampa Bay area has such incredible water ways, beaches, and dense forests full of exotic wildlife, including blue herons, eagles, deer, coyotes, and even bears. It is our responsibility as a community to keep the area clean so that our environment can thrive and be a source of beauty and inspiration for generations to come.

Adopt A Road Signs

You may have seen an Adopt A Road sign and thought, “What is that about?” It’s a wonderful program sponsored by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to encourage members of our community to clean up debris to protect our environment, wildlife, and to beautify our surroundings.

Volunteers can adopt a 1-mile section of road in Hillsborough County or the city of Tampa. Other programs include Adopt a Park, Adopt A Shoreline, Adopt a Monofilament Tube (found at boat ramps and fishing piers), or Adopt a Watergoat (removal of litter that washes in from nearby storm drains from surrounding streets.)

These adoption programs help to keep our community free from unsightly trash that is contaminating the soil. In order to receive an Adopt A Road Sign, volunteers are required to commit to a two-year agreement, must complete annual safety training, hold 4 cleanup projects at the site per year, and are required to sign up for 2 event cleanups (the Great American Cleanup and the Hillsborough River Coastal Cleanup).

Events are held throughout the year, but community members can choose to volunteer at any time. Simply contact the office and the staff can advise you of areas that need to be cleaned. All supplies are furnished including gloves, bags, and hand sanitizer. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful staff members will even pick up any large trash pickups.

After Gasparilla Cleanup

In January, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful will hold its “After Gasparilla Cleanup” on Sunday, January 29, 2023. It is anticipated that 300-400 volunteers will participate in the cleanup along four different locations of Bayshore Boulevard.

Last year, they collected over 50,000 beads. The beads are then donated to McDonald Training Center who clean, fix, and sell them back to the Gasparilla krewes.

“It is a win-win for everyone because the beads are not going into landfills and the other non-profit gets funding as well,” said Debbie Evenson, Executive Director of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

Upcoming Community Cleanup Events

Additional upcoming events include:

• March 25, 2023 – Great American Cleanup kickoff

• April 21, 2023 – Great Port Cleanup which includes locations along the port, Davis Island and McKay Bay. Last year over 400 volunteers participated in the event.

• September 16, 2023 – Hillsborough River and Coastal Cleanup

Fundraiser and Awards Breakfast

“Tropical Nights” is a fundraiser held in July to support Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. Last year over $100,000 was raised. Check the website for more information about the worthwhile event.

This past November, 13 scholarships to college students ranging from $1500-2500 were given at the “Awards Breakfast” to recognize people in the community. The student ambassadors to the organization are an inspiration to others and are greatly appreciated for all they do.

Tree and Bench Dedications

Another source of revenue for the organization comes from Tree and Bench Dedications. Family members may choose to honor a loved one with the purchase of a swing bench for $3500 which includes bronze plaque $3000 for a standard bench or $1,000 for an existing bench.

Trees may be planted with a commemorative plaque throughout the city for $300 for new tree or $150 for an existing tree.

You will find the benches and plaques throughout the city, including Al Lopez Field, Riverwalk, and Ballast Point.

Recently a woman contacted Debbie. Her husband of 50 years had passed away and Debbie had helped her to get a bench set up in his memory. There were obstacles to overcome to get the bench in the small neighborhood park, but Debbie made it happen. The woman wanted to personally thank Debbie for all she did, as the bench brought a lot of people together.

“It was a bit of a challenge, but it was worth it because it meant so much to her,” said Debbie.

Educating Our Future Generations

Staff members from Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful visit schools in the county as a way to educate and encourage future generations to take care of our environment. Kristina Moreta, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful representative, talks to students about waste reduction, environmental issues, recycling, and more. Educating children now can help to reduce litter and soil contamination in the future.

For more information regarding what you can do to Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, call 813.221.8733 or visit https://www.keeptampabaybeautiful.org/.

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