DANVILLE — Almost every day, Ed Hamilton stuffs a plastic bag or two in his back pocket and takes a 3-mile walk in his neighborhood, picking up trash he sees along the way.
"Walking, you see a lot more of it, and I just get tired of looking at it," said Hamilton, who changes up his routes from time to time. On a new route, he takes a couple extra bags, knowing he'll run across more trash. Once he covers a new route with an initial walk, he takes just one bag per walk until he switches routes again.
"Honestly, the way I do it, it's not that much work, and after a while it makes a difference," he said.
That's why volunteers with Keep Vermilion County Beautiful are trying to recruit more walkers like Hamilton who can incorporate trash pickup into their regular walking routines.
"For people who are already in the routine of walking for exercise and relaxation, picking up litter along the way seems to be a natural fit," said KVCB coordinator Lynn Wolgamot.
An all-volunteer organization, KVCB is entering its 10th year of organizing various cleanup and beautification activities throughout Vermilion County, and is encouraging individuals, church groups, schools, businesses, neighborhood associations and other organizations to adopt an area or street to clean.
Nancy Harmon, KVCB's new Adopt-A-Spot coordinator, said the organization once had more than 60 groups and 15 individuals reporting back three times a year with litter totals, but the number has decreased and volunteers want to see it grow again.
Free litter tongs and vests are provided to walkers who register with KVCB and commit to picking up litter on a regular basis, selecting an area to pick up litter once a month during the spring, summer and fall seasons. KVCB asks that participants answer a survey three times a year about the amount of litter they collect. Those answering the survey are entered into the KVCB "Litter Lottery" for a chance to win a cash prize.
The group also recently approved its list of new projects for 2012, which includes revitalizing the Adopt-A-Spot program and other initiatives.
— The annual Great American Clean Up will be May 5. In Danville, the event will focus on local projects that include planting in the Douglas Discovery Garden, painting projects and litter cleanup at various sites. Douglas Park will be headquarters for the day's activities where volunteers will be treated to lunch. All members of the public are encouraged to come out and help. Volunteers can register by calling Wolgamot at 260-3483 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Those who register before May 5 can pick their activity.
— Communities across Vermilion County are planning Clean Up Day activities. Villages can organize litter pickups, flower planting, and other general cleaning up around neighborhoods or the community.
— Beautification grants will be given out again this year. Grants are being expanded to include small businesses with less than 50 employees. Grant applications are available online. You must be a member of Keep Vermilion County Beautiful to participate in the grant program. New grant opportunities exist this year for villages and townships to develop rain gardens or tree planting beautification projects. A partnership with Danville Area Community College's horticulture program this year will assign students to assist in the design phase of rain gardens.
— On the recycling side of its mission, KVCB is considering new partnerships with Bryant Industries, Mervis Industries and the Vermilion County Health Department to offer collection events.
For membership, volunteer or any other information, call Wolgamot at 260-3483 or go to http://www.keepvermilioncountybeautiful.com .