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Denton residents show they care

Giving up free time to help with a good cause is always a sacrifice, but donating time and energy to pick up trash is especially commendable.

That’s why we were so impressed with the turnout for Keep Denton Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup event on Saturday. The annual effort drew an estimated 1,200 volunteers, said Lauren Barker, the event coordinator.

Barker termed the turnout “amazing,” and we have to agree. It was an impressive show of support by residents who obviously care a great deal about their city.

The cleanup focuses on sprucing up neighborhoods, parks and streets, and while such work is always appreciated, it’s especially important at this time of year. Denton will be playing host to several festivals and special community activities during the next few weeks, and sprucing up the town should help make a good impression on our visitors.

Barker said Tuesday that volunteers collected more than two tons of trash and recyclable materials. It was an impressive haul.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that the event has consistently drawn a strong turnout for the past several years. Barker has been involved with the cleanup since 2008, and she told us that it has drawn about 1,000 volunteers each year she has been involved.

Since the first citywide cleanup events were held in Denton in 1989, the Great American Cleanup has gone on to become one of Keep Denton Beautiful’s biggest and most recognized annual events, according to the organization’s website.

During its history, the Great American Cleanup has resulted in the removal of an estimated 2 million pounds of litter — and all the work has been done by volunteers.

In spite of the difficult and often dirty work, the cleanup has its rewards, Barker said.

“When people came back from the cleanup, they felt really great about what they’d done,” she told us. “That’s what we love to see — people taking ownership of their community and wanting to improve it.”

It’s been slow, but we believe that progress has been made in the ongoing battle against litter. We’ve seen more and more people join the ranks of volunteers during annual cleanup efforts, and we watched community education efforts like those sponsored by Keep Denton Beautiful pay dividends by helping us learn to be more environmentally friendly.

Removing litter not only provides an immediate improvement, but it also sends a clear message — we’re proud of our community and we want to keep it clean.

Thanks to all who turned out Saturday to help with the effort.