This weekend marked the beginning of the Fitchburg Clean-Up Corps’ annual “Operation Clean Sweep” spring cleaning efforts. The project kicked off in Ward 1, with other wards to follow in the coming weeks (if you’re not sure what ward you’re in, check the city’s ward map). All events are held from 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturdays, rain or shine. This weekend, it looked like the weather would not be cooperating – the forecasters were all deeming Saturday a probable “wash out,” and I woke up to some pretty significant thunderstorms. It was a pleasant surprise when not only did the rain stop by 8:00, but the sun came out and temperatures reached 70° by lunchtime!
Of course, this is what Charlie Caron predicted would happen. Charlie has been coordinating the Clean-Up Corps on a volunteer basis for many years (I believe he said seven?). We all owe Charlie a huge thank-you for giving up so many Saturdays and countless hours of planning time to make this event such a success. His attitude is perfect: help to the extent that you can, as even stopping by for an hour can make a big difference. Thanks to donations from various organizations and individuals throughout the city, volunteers were provided with breakfast, lunch, and T-shirts in addition to supplies such as trash bags and gloves. We were asked to bring along whatever rakes, shovels, and other equipment we had available, but these items were also provided to anyone who didn’t have their own. Several large dumpsters were on site at the staging area. Residents were welcome to stop by throughout the morning to drop off hard-to-dispose-of items like televisions, appliances, paint, etc. at no cost.
The group of volunteers who helped out in Ward 1 consisted of a lot of hard workers. I met everyone from local politicians to our neighbors (including a VERY impressive team of a father and his son, who I’d guess was about 8 years old and who kept saying “can we do some more work now?”) to people from other wards who indicated that they try to come to as many ward clean-ups as possible. Some took on landscaping projects, such as reviving the small grassy area at the intersection of South Street and Electric Avenue, while others collected trash that had accumulated after a long winter. Those with trucks circled the ward to pick up what others had collected and to replenish our trash bag supplies. Street sweepers also worked their way through the ward.
Meetings held the Monday prior to each clean-up are used to identify particular target areas around the ward, and volunteers are also welcome to request that specific areas be addressed. My group cleaned up along some high traffic areas, but we also collected appliances and some tires that had been thrown down an embankment behind a school. Although the morning passed quickly, it was astounding to see the impact we’d had in such a short amount of time. Many thanks to all who took part…but I have to give a special thanks to Jim, who came over from Ward 6 and helped my husband drag a ridiculously heavy refrigerator down a steep embankment in the woods near our house and out to the street! I would strongly encourage anyone in the city to consider helping out in their own ward or others – next week will be Ward 5, with the meeting place on North Street near the FSC recreation center.