Volunteers Out to Spruce Up Youngstown

Clean Up Day
Clean up Youngstown day.

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Dozens of people on Saturday picked up trash along Interstate 680 highway entrance and exit ramps.

The volunteers were helping out for the annual State Roadway Cleanup, hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Wearing bright green vests, the volunteers picking up litter along I-680 were easy to spot. The Westside Citizens Coalition cleaned up four ramps on the West Side, including the Connecticut-Wellington off-ramp.

“We found cups. We found broken bottles. We found shoes,” said volunteer Keith Swoger. “People just throw everything out the windows. So, it’s basically up to the coalition and the community to really step up and clean up their own community.”

Green Youngstown along with the Green Team and ODOT collaborated for the event. They try to focus on the ramps most heavily traveled and the gateways into the city.

“We try to get the corridors first so that people can get an idea when they see it they don’t think, Oh look how dirty Youngstown is,” said Green Youngstown program coordinator Jennifer Jones.

Jones said the event gets bigger each year with the growing volunteer base.

The group Defend Youngstown got about 10 volunteers to sign up through Facebook.

Alison Kinkela and Jaci Atkins picked up litter along the Midlothian ramps, filling about 10 trash bags in two hours.

“You just kinda question how did it really get out here. Like, did you really throw it out of your car? How is all this stuff out here?” said Atkins. “How do you not care that much that you’ll just throw it out?”

ODOT crews were out collecting all the bags along the highway, and they appreciate the help from volunteers. The extra help saves ODOT nearly $300,000 a year.

“Everybody here in the group did an excellent job. This looks a lot better,” said Defend Youngstown founder Phil Kidd. “I think we collected over 60-70 bags full of trash. So, it was pretty good for two hours worth of work. We did a good job out here.”

Green Youngstown will have a city-side cleanup next month which will target the entire city.

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