Greenbriar cleanup benefits neighborhood, volunteers

Interview with Joni Brown, Keep Victoria Beautiful's executive director, as part of as part of Keep Victoria Beautiful's neighborhood Clean Sweep.
  • HELP FROM BAGSTERA few hours into the cleanup, 600-gallon green bags, set off by orange cones, were lining the streets of the neighborhood.

    The "Bagster" bags were provided by Waste Management and can hold up to 3,300 pounds of ...

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  • HELP FROM BAGSTERA few hours into the cleanup, 600-gallon green bags, set off by orange cones, were lining the streets of the neighborhood.

    The "Bagster" bags were provided by Waste Management and can hold up to 3,300 pounds of trash.

    Waste Management also provided the hauling services, using a crane to lift the one-time-use bag by long yellow handles into dump trucks.

    For more information, visit www.thebagster.com, and check out www.keepvictoriabeautiful.com.

A group of kids with bags in hand walked past the human-sized spider, under some cobwebs and approached the ghost hanging on the front door.

A black cat scittered across the driveway, and one kid rang the doorbell.

But they weren't trick or treating.

Dressed in neon vests and heavy-duty gloves, the youth from Trinity Episcopal Church were taking part in Keep Victoria Beautiful's "Clean Sweep" of the Greenbriar neighborhood.

Beginning at 9 a.m., about 15 youth were canvassing the southeast Victoria neighborhood, picking up trash and asking neighbors if they needed any junk, debris or other items removed from their homes.

A total of 80 volunteers, some from Howell Middle School's Builders Club and Victoria East and West high schools' ROTC, were also helping out.

"The idea behind it is when people have the opportunity to live and breathe in a clean and safe environment, they learn respect for themselves, others and their environment," said Dee Dee Hudson, youth minister at the church.

Victoria West High School student Clayton Cain, 16, said he was on board with the project as soon as he heard about it. He was actually helping with the cleanup in between volunteering at a pancake breakfast and basketball practice.

"I think it's cool to come out here and help people pick up the stuff they can't themselves," he said, taking a break from hauling a large piece of metal with City Councilman Joe Truman. "Sometimes there's just so much stuff, it's overwhelming. But when people help you out, it's easier to get started."

Back at the house ready for Halloween, Jesus Mendoza, 32, said he'd been looking forward to the cleanup and had "a bit of junk" from home renovations for the kids to take.

"It's just some chunks of cement, but the trash won't take it away," he said. "We just have a few things and don't want to drive out to the landfill."

Mendoza said he and his family moved to Greenbriar about three years ago and appreciate the volunteers' efforts.

"It's a friendly, quiet neighborhood, so it's nice to kind of clean it up."

Greenbriar is the first neighborhood clean up in Keep Victoria Beautiful's new three-neighborhood "Clean Sweep" program. Joni Brown, executive director of Keep Victoria Beautiful, said the organization chose Greenbriar because of its strong Neighborhood Watch program, which shows the neighborhood is committed to improvement.

"It reduces crime, improves the economic value of a community and improves the quality of life in a community," Brown said of the "Clean Sweep" program.

But the benefits of the program don't end at the street corner.

"Kids who volunteer are more civic-minded, more likely to become leaders in the community and more likely to take personal responsibility," she said.

Cain agreed.

"It makes it better for everyone. You feel more pride in your neighborhood," he said.