Volunteers  pick up trash during last year’s Great American Cleanup. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in the annual event scheduled for April.

With more than 60 sites to choose from during March, April and May, local volunteers should have no problem finding a way to contribute to the cleanliness and beautification of their communities by participating in the annual Great American Cleanup, a national event hosted locally by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

According to Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Executive Director Debbie Evenson, local supporters are a must for what the organization hopes to accomplish every year.

“The volunteers are the heart of all clean up projects,” Evenson said. “Without them, none of what we measure as our success would be possible.”

Throughout the event, an anticipated 1,200 Keep America Beautiful affiliates and participating organizations nationwide rally an estimated 3.5 million volunteers to hold litter and debris cleanups on public lands and waterways, host recycling drives, spruce up community amenities like parks and playgrounds, remove graffiti, plant trees and community gardens and host many more activities designed to improve the living environments.

In 2011, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful recorded more than 10,400 volunteers who picked up 110,913 lbs. of trash and recyclables from March-May.

“This year, through expanding our partnerships, more projects will be available to volunteers in more communities than ever before,” Evenson said. “We are expecting close to 5,000 volunteers this spring.”

This year, the main event is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, which expects to draw more than 3,500 volunteers to handle projects such as roadside cleanups, invasive removals, painting and planting, while event organizers are also looking for boaters and kayakers for waterway cleanups.

Some of the cleanup area sites throughout Tampa Bay include Dover Park in Dover, Edward Medard Park in Plant City, E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin, Heather Lakes Park in Brandon, Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Riverview Civic Center in Riverview and the Gardenville Recreation Center in Gibsonton.

Check-in is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., with cleanup to start at 9 a.m. Free T-shirts are also available while supplies last and students can receive community service hours for participating in projects.

“We appreciate our sponsors and the media such for spreading the word with and helping with the effort,” said Environmental Program Coordinator, Daisy Packer. “[Last year,] a great majority of volunteers heard of the cleanup projects through the pages of the Osprey Observer Community Newspapers.”

For a list of locations and the registration form, visit www.KeepTampaBayBeautiful.org  or call  221-8733.

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