KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Green Up Day is Saturday, and the non-profit that facilitates it statewide is seeking to increase the donations it gets from individuals.
Green Up Vermont President Melinda Vieux said most non-profits receive 80 percent of their donations from private individuals with about five percent coming from corporations. Green Up Vermont, however, sees roughly 80 percent from corporations and five percent from individual donors. It gets some help from the state, and towns donate about $20,000.
The non-profit's annual budget is $125,000. Getting the 48,000 Green Up Day bags to towns costs only about $12,000, Vieux said while promoting the event costs $20,000. The group's two part-time employees cost under $55,000. Most of the group's expenses are administrative "But that's what it takes to make Green Up Day happen," she said.
In the past few years the group has been falling short of its fundraising goals and will be doing more to encourage donations. "If you can't participate, donate," Vieux said, adding that were it not for Green Up Day towns would be left to either leave their roadsides littered or paying to have their road crews pick it up. She said Vermont has developed a reputation for being clean.
The amount of bags being used and volunteers helping out has been going up in recent years, said Vieux.
"We think there was more litter out there this year than last year," Vieux said, adding that while Green Up Day is on a particular day, once the weather turns warm people become anxious to start cleaning the roadsides.
"Prior to Green Up Day, Vermont was a bit of a mess," she said. "I definitely don't know of any other state that has this much community spirit around a day to go out and clean up litter." She expects 15,000 people to volunteer in picking up trash this year and said it is remarkable that Vermonters can tackle the litter problem once a year while other states will do similar volunteer cleaning efforts four times a year.
Green Up Day is organized at the town level and practices vary. By visiting www.greenupvermont.org and clicking the "How to Participate" tab one will be brought to a list of counties in Vermont. Clicking one of the county tabs will bring up a list of contact information for Green Up Day coordinators by town. Some entries have information on where to get bags and where to bring them once filled. The following is a list of a few of them.
* Arlington -- Meet at the Fisher Elementary School on Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon to get bags and cleaning assignments. There will be pizza at 11:30 a.m. and prizes will be awarded. Bags are also available at the Town Hall.
* Bennington -- Call the Town Office at 442-1037 and inform the town about where you wish to clean. Bags are available at the Town Office. According to the Green Up Vermont website bags can also be picked up and dropped off at Bennington Subaru at 527 North Bennington Road.
* Pownal -- Bags are available at the Transfer Station and Town Office. Drop bags off at the Transfer Station.
* Shaftsbury -- Gather at Cole Hall between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Prizes are being given for those who find "litter bugs" amongst the roadside trash. Bags are available at Cole Hall, Whitman's Feed Store, Shaftsbury Country Store, Paulin's Store, Clear Brook Farm, and the Transfer Station. Bags can be dropped off on Saturday at Cole Hall, the Transfer Station, North Shaftsbury Fire Station, East Road, Maple Hill Road, Buck Hill Road, Lamb Road, Mattison Road, Coulter Road, Myers Road, Tinkham Road, West Mountain Road, Bennett Hill Road, Mead Road, Bouplon Hollow Road, and Murphy Hill Road.
* Woodford -- Bags are available at the Town Office and can be dropped off there as well.
Vermont's first Green Up Day was in 1970 and was thought of by Robert S. Babcock Jr., a Burlington Free Press reporter.
Saturday is also "I Love My Park Day" in New York. New Yorkers are encouraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo to volunteer at their local state park.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr