KEEP­ING IT CLEAN

Lo­cal group helps youths give back to com­mu­nity

Texarkana Gazette - - METRO/STATE - By Greg Bischof

About a dozen lo­cal young res­i­dents spent part of their week­end giv­ing back to their com­mu­nity by pick­ing up trash and lit­ter Satur­day in four Texarkana, Ark., res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

Dur­ing this com­mu­nity cleanup, Bridg­ing the Gaps of Arkansas, a lo­cal youth lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment group of peo­ple from ages 8 to 25, di­vided into two teams. These teams spent about four to five hours clear­ing trash and lit­ter from res­i­den­tial yards in and around the East 12th Street and Beech Street in­ter­sec­tion and along the East 12th Street and East 16th Street in­ter­sec­tions with Lau­rel Street.

Team mem­bers then took the trash and dis­posed of it in garbage dump­sters di­rectly west of the Sand­flat-Glen­daleShan­non Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter’s park­ing lot.

Bar­bara Pitts-Ri­ley, a man­ag­ing part­ner for Bridg­ing the Gaps of Arkansas, said if the event can be a yearly tra­di­tion, mid-Septem­ber might be a good, con­sis­tent sched­ul­ing month for the project, mostly be­cause of the gen­er­ally good sea­sonal weather.

Pitts-Ri­ley said that in April and May, the group worked with 20 to 30 col­lege stu­dents, fac­ulty mem­bers and col­lege staff from Texas A&M Univer­si­tyTexarkana in a sim­i­lar com­mu­nity ser­vice project. This project in­volved clean­ing up park­ing lots, plant­ing flow­ers, trim­ming trees and pick­ing up lit­ter on neigh­bor­ing streets in and around res­i­den­tial yards and busi­ness build­ings in the Sand­flatGlen­dale neigh­bor­hood area.

Pitts-Ri­ley’s hus­band, Johnny Ri­ley, who helped or­ga­nize and di­rect the week­end event, said the project cre­ates a sense of com­mu­nity and of­fers a chance to bring peo­ple to­gether for a com­mon cause, giv­ing res­i­dents a sense of unity, friend­ship, iden­tity and pur­pose.

“A lot of peo­ple would like to help make their com­mu­nity a bet­ter place to live, but they just don’t know where to start or how to fit in,” he said.

“This or­ga­ni­za­tion and this event gives them that chance.”

Photo by spe­cial con­trib­u­tor Dy­lan McNiel

n The Sand­flat-Glen­dale-Shan­non Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter and Bridg­ing the Gaps of Arkansas hosted a com­mu­nity cleanup Satur­day morn­ing.

Photo by spe­cial con­trib­u­tor Dy­lan McNiel

n About a dozen lo­cal young res­i­dents took part in the neigh­bor­hood cleanup Satur­day.

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