Friday, May 04, 2012
Camaraderie on the cleanup crew
Some clubs and organizations find more fun in numbers when volunteering for Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake.
If you’ll be on the water tomorrow picking up debris and you just happen to be sporting maroon and orange, you might want to offload at Gills Creek Marina. The Franklin County/SML chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association will be manning the Take Pride in SML drop-off site all day.
Tom Curling, chapter president and Wirtz resident, said this will be the second year members of the Tech grads club have been manning stations for the annual clean-up day.
“[Previously] we’ve had different boats going out with different groups of people wearing Hokie gear,” he said. “Last year, we tried to get enough motivation to man one of the locations.”
Curling said the club’s participation in Take Pride, a 25-year-strong event during which volunteers remove debris from the lake before the summer boating season, is a nod to Hokie Nation Serves.
The initiative encourages Tech alumni to volunteer time to support the community and embrace the spirit of goodwill impressed on students at Virginia Tech.
“We’re trying to promote Hokies, and fun with Hokies, and showing the community we’re here and involved,” said Curling.
The Virginia Tech Alumni Association is one of many organizations taking part in tomorrow’s clean-up. Event chairman Frank Chrzanowski said the 11 drop-off sites usually are manned by groups including clubs, civic groups, homeowners associations, businesses and churches.
Drop-off site volunteers help boaters carry garbage bags, logs and other trash to the dumpsters at each location. Last year, volunteers hauled about 120 tons of debris from the lake.
“We really do encourage groups to participate,” said Chrzanowski. “They have a lot of fun and they know each other.”
Cindy Turlington said the camaraderie at Indian Pointe Marina where the Smith Mountain Striper Club has been stationed for six years is “fantastic.” About 20 to 25 club members man the site from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., most staying for the duration.
“I always bring doughnuts in the morning to get them started with a little sugar rush,” said Turlington, who oversees the club’s effort.
During the day, club members nosh on snacks and drink bottled water. In the afternoon, someone goes out and brings back lunch — something like pizza or sub sandwiches — for the whole crew.
Turlington said Indian Pointe is a fairly busy site, so club members have a few strategies they’ve developed over the years to deal with the quantity of debris brought in. Sometimes, club members form an assembly line, passing garbage bags up the boat ramp and to the dumpster.
If a boater brings in a large piece of debris such as a floating log or part of a dock, the volunteers will use ropes or tarps to drag it up the hill. Or, developer Jim McKelvey, who has worked at the Indian Pointe site for years, will use heavy equipment to bring the items ashore. Then volunteers use chain saws to break the debris down into smaller pieces for disposal, said Turlington.
“We’ve had some pretty interesting stuff,” she said. “One year we had seven floating docks come in and one year we had a rocking chair.”
Turlington said it’s a labor-intensive day, but she has no problem getting club members to volunteer. Many come back every year.
“The fishermen are out on the water, some of them every single day, so they know the importance of the clean-up effort,” said Turlington. “You’re hot and sweaty and dirty, but you really feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’re done.”
For more information about Take Pride in SML, call 721-4400.