Hundreds clear trash along the Red Clay Creek03/27/2022 11:56PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The Red Clay watershed is significantly more pristine this week thanks to the 34th annual cleanup on Saturday.
The Red Clay Creek is the small waterway that begins in West Marlborough and flows southward through Kennett Square and into Delaware at Yorklyn. Its waters eventually end up in Delaware’s Christina River.
Historically the Brandywine-Red Clay Alliance, and formerly its predecessor the Red Clay Valley Association, have organized a cleanup along its banks each spring.
This year, Brandywine-Red Clay executive director Jim Jordan said he was gratified not only by the volume of trash collected, but by the number of volunteers who turned out to help.
“We had 683 registered ahead of time, and more showed up on Saturday. We got well over the 700 that we had hoped for,” he said.
The cleanup was recovering from two years of COVID-19 during which the project had to be measured down and run with extreme cautions to prevent disease spread.
This year the event was back and huge, with participants covering 98 miles of creek shoreline and streets divided into 124 assignments sections – much of it in Kennett Square and nearby surroundings.
Jordan said they collected 90 cubic yards of trash which was placed in two large Dumpsters. That’s not including 40 bags of aluminum cans destined for recycling and more than 100 tires.
The volunteers came from all corners of the local population, including students, retirees, heads of businesses, families with young children and working members of sponsor organizations.
There was an especially large turnout among high school students from Kennett and Unionville high schools. Kennett National Honor Society member Martin Heintzelman said many of the participants there on Saturday were using the cleanup to earn service credits for school.
Some who stopped by came because it’s their habit to participate, like longtime board member David Myers, who also brought his adult son and high school age grandson.
Another veteran of the event, Jeff Whittle, said he came with his truck to help take volunteers to their pickup locations.
Early on, the volunteers checked in at three points near the Red Clay Creek: Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Township, the YMCA pool parking lot in Kennett Square and the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, Del. There they registered and picked up safety equipment, trash bags and vivid green vests. There were also refreshments on hand contributed by local merchants.
From there, the volunteers spread out to their territories and picked up the trash
In all, with the equipment, Dumpsters, trucks and bags, the annual bill for the event runs about $23,000. All of that is contributed, Jordan said. He is extremely grateful for the generosity of donors.
Through the years, the volunteers have encountered a wide variety of objects dumped by passersby.
One participant, Rick Lewandowski, said they find a lot of wallets and food containers along the way, especially foam drinking cups.
Jordan said tires are always a burden, but this year there was a new twist: Someone had disposed of three large tires by placing them on tree branches. The team had to send up a volunteer to retrieve them from where they were hanging.
Another surprise this year, Jordan said, was a large number of small liquor shot bottles – the kind they serve on planes.
“Everybody reported finding them like never before,” he said.
As he reflected on the success of the 34th annual cleanup, Jordan noted that it is not limited by political boundaries or even state lines, and it costs taxpayers nothing.
“It’s educational, too,” he said. “Those kids who helped out will never throw a piece of trash out a car window in their lives.”