Volunteers win prizes in litter sweep contest

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A volunteer team from Bridgestone’s Wilson tire plant filled 21 bags of litter from a section of Firestone Parkway, claiming first-place honors in the Democratic Women of Wilson County’s Spring Litter Sweep contest.

The Bridgestone Cash for Trash cleanup team received the $250 grand prize. Nancy Hawley, president of the Democratic Women of Wilson County, said the team is donating its winnings to the Wilson County Relay for Life.

The Wilson County Republican Party will make a $100 donation to the Wesley Shelter on the Bridgestone team’s behalf. The county GOP co-sponsored the litter cleanup in a show of bipartisan support for volunteerism and community pride.

The WhirliDogs team led by Wesley Trump collected 18 bags of trash and will donate its $150 second-place prize to WhirliDogs, a training center to help people with disabilities develop work skills in a realistic commercial kitchen environment.

WhirliDogs plans to open a retail consignment shop with items made by people with disabilities and a cafe serving hot dogs, ice cream and milkshakes that’s staffed by individuals with disabilities.

A third-place prize of $100 went unclaimed because only two teams entered the contest. While organizers were disappointed with the low participation, Hawley said the effort helped bring attention to the problem of roadside litter in Wilson County.

“Getting the trash picked up is just the most apparent concern,” Hawley said in an email to The Wilson Times. “We have learned through our effort that the problem is more systemic and needs a comprehensive, cooperative plan covering all aspects of sanitation and environmental control in our county and city. We hope that can happen.”

The contest encouraged teams to participate in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Spring Litter Sweep held from April 13-27. The NCDOT provided trash bags, gloves and traffic safety vests. Statewide litter reduction campaigns are held biannually in the spring and fall.

The abundance of trash on Wilson County roadsides prompted a string of letters to the editor in February and March. A Times editorial published March 6 thanked letter-writers for bringing the problem to light and suggested solutions from the public and private sectors.

Hawley said the Democratic Women of Wilson County will continue to support community cleanup efforts and thanked the winning teams for donating their prize money to charitable causes.

“Even though we did not make a great impact toward our original goal, we are happy that through our effort, other good causes will receive help,” she said.