Created in 1999 by environmental organization Keep America Beautiful, perhaps best known for the crying Native American public service announcement in the 70's, the annual, three month-long "Great American Cleanup" is the largest community improvement program in the nation. The cleanup event draws millions of volunteers nationally to collect litter and beautify areas in their communities.
The Great American Cleanup has been wildly successful in Oklahoma. In fact, during the 2011 event, about 177 million pounds of trash were collected nationally, and volunteers in Oklahoma more than did their share. The local effort is coordinated by statewide nonprofit organization Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, a group that was founded in 1965 and operates under the mission: "To encourage, facilitate and recognize grassroots efforts that will improve the aesthetic, environmental and sustainable quality of life in Oklahoma."
For 2014, the Great American Cleanup Oklahoma event begins March 1st and runs through May 31st.
Volunteers for the Great American Cleanup Oklahoma can participate in many ways. Sample activities include:
- Litter Clean-Up & Prevention
- Graffiti Removal
- River, Lakeshore & Underwater Clean-Ups
- Flower and Tree Planting
- Recycle Electronics
- Clothing Drives
- Recycling Drives
- School Grounds Clean-Up
- Paint a Downtown Building
- Community Beautification
Volunteer groups can register online.
Participants receive promotional items and support materials to use on the projects. These may include posters, banners, trash bags, media kits, public relations assistance, creative ideas for projects and more. In addition, registered groups get drink coupons and t-shirts, and they can compete for prizes, grants and other opportunities through national sponsors such as Pepsi, Nestle, Dow, Solo and others.
Great American Cleanup Oklahoma organizers have support materials available online, including documents with project ideas, project ideas for teens, and Litter Removal Do's and Don'ts.
For more information, contact Sonny Wilkinson, Projects Manager for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, at (405) 286-9141.