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Photo submitted – from left to right: Matthew Skye, DEC Climate Smart Communities Coordinator and KMVB Committee Member, Sam Russo, KMVB Committee Member, Tina Pavlot, Vice President of M&T Bank and KMVB committee member, Melissa Roys, Executive Director of Connected Community Schools, Rachel Casler, Rome Site Coordinator for Connected Community Schools, and Steve Smith, Executive Director of Mohawk Valley Economic Development District.

Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful (KMVB), a six-county NYS affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful (KAB) program, is celebrating the achievements of the Mohawk Valley’s 22nd annual Great American Cleanup. KMVB is a standing committee of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Inc. (MVEDD).

KAB works to create sustainable communities that are socially connected, environmentally healthy and economically sound. Their annual cleanup effort is the country’s largest community improvement program. Each Spring, KAB affiliates, like KMVB, engage more than 4 million volunteers in more than 20,000 communities nationwide.

Today, KMVB and Business Machines & Equipment (BME) hosted a wrap-up event at BME’s Corporate Office at 5 Ann Street in Mohawk, NY to announce the results of the 2023 KMVB Great American Cleanup.

This year, KMVB welcomed three new sponsors to the local Great American Cleanup Effort: Standard Insulation Co., BME, and Casella Waste Systems. These sponsors, along with the longstanding support of PJ Green, Inc, Bank of Utica, Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, Positively Rome, the City of Utica, CABVI, the Genesis Group, Rome Clean & Green, as well as the Otsego, Schoharie, Herkimer and Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce offices, made this year’s cleanup a great success.

This year, we saw a surge in youth participation through efforts of local Connected Communities School teams in several school districts throughout the Mohawk Valley. “Getting the kids involved is integral to our goals of the KMVB initiative,” said Samantha Brown, KMVB committee member since 2021. “Littering is a behavior, and when the youth is involved, we can start to change the mindset of our community,” she continued.

“Every year, our community continues to show up to clean up our public green spaces,” said Stephen Smith, MVEDD Executive Director. Over 3,000 volunteers in 164 teams collected over 2,400 bags of litter from parks, roadways and waterways in Central NY during the months of April, May, June and July – more than double the number of participants of last year’s clean up event.

There are environmental and economic costs to litter that negatively impact local wildlife, public drainage systems, road safety and property values. “It is estimated that cleaning up one piece of litter saves a community $0.40. If every KMVB volunteer picked up 50 pieces of litter, this year’s clean up benefitted the Mohawk Valley by over $61,500,” continued Smith.

If picking up litter is not something you can commit to – there are other ways you can get involved. KMVB supports various recycling and beautification projects in the region. Sam Russo, a KMVB board member, has started five perennial gardens in the Mohawk Valley, and is always looking to partner up with local community groups to build more. “Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful is not only about litter. We want to create spaces that bring people together and inspire a sense of responsibility to keep those spaces clean and beautiful,” says Russo. If you have a community garden, or would like to start one, please contact info@mvedd.org find out how KMVB can help.

After the press conference, several members of the KMVB committee and local volunteers made a trip to the Mohawk Community Garden for a final clean up in this year’s event.

Groups will be able to register for the annual event next Spring on MVEDD’s website, www.mvedd.org. By registering, you will be eligible to receive free materials including gloves, trash bags and other assistance. KMVB encourages any individual or group hosting a cleanup, community garden, recycling or beautification project – new or existing – to register their event. In addition to free materials and resources, registrants will be highlighted for their efforts on the Authority website and KMVB social media platforms.

For more information, or to report a site that needs to be cleaned or rehabilitated, email us at info@mvedd.org. You may also follow KMVB on Facebook (Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful – KMVB) for additional information. To donate funding or materials, call (315) 866-4671.

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