Student volunteers from Randall Middle School spent time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day cleaning up the environment along the Alafia River and Lithia Springs Park.

Instead of sleeping in on their day off, approximately 50 students volunteered their time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and went down to the Alafia River and Lithia Springs Park to clean up along the river banks and in the camp ground. The environmental clean-up was organized by the Randall Area Youth Service (R.A.Y.S.) Council.

R.A.Y.S. Council is an elective class option for students at Randall Middle School, which sponsors events like Relay for Life, Kick Butts Day, handles recycling through the school and advises students on where they can earn volunteer hours. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Clean Up is an example of ways that the R.A.Y.S. gives other students the opportunity to earn volunteer hours.

“The 50 volunteer students were recruited by the R.A.Y.S. Council to ‘Take a day on, not a day off’,” said Kristy Verdi, R.A.Y.S. Council sponsor and teacher.

The volunteers departed Randall Middle School at around 8:30 a.m. Along with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department Environmental Division, the students helped clean up the environment to protect the river and the surrounding watershed. 

Most of the clean-up took place near the Lithia Pinecrest Bridge, where students and adult supervisors wore gloves and filled bright orange bags full of debris found along the river and in the park. Over the course of around four hours, the volunteers filled the bed of a pickup truck full of orange trash bags and even the remains of a rusty, old box spring.

“Each year, Americans are encouraged to follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. of giving back by using the federal holiday to help in their community,” said Verdi. “This clean-up was our way of living up to that example.”

Randall Middle School is located at 16510 FishHawk Blvd in Lithia. For more information on the R.A.Y.S., contact Kristy Verdi at Randall Middle School at or call 740-3900.

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