April 27 dubbed Burrillville Earth Day; hundreds expected at cleanup

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BURRILLVILLE – In the lead up to, and the weeks following April 22, more than 1,000 volunteers across the Blackstone Valley will help to clean up their communities, picking up dozens of tons of liter.

But even by those standards, Burrillville’s Earth Day is something special.

A well-organized affair coordinating the efforts of up to 300 town-based volunteers, Burrillville’s Earth Day event will remove hundreds of bags of trash from town roadways.  It will include input from the Department of Public Works, and bring together people from a multitude of organizations including the Burrillville Lions Club, the Conservation Commission, scouting and church groups, to name a few.

There will be food, raffles, giveaways and a system for distributing supplies and t-shirts as needed, as well as hauling away collected refuse.

The Town Council officially named Saturday, April 27 Burrillville Earth Day at a meeting last month, an annual tradition that separates the town cleanup day from actual Earth Day, celebrated internationally on Monday, April 22 this year. The cleanup is put on annually in Burrillville on the Saturday before or after Earth Day through a partnership between the Lions Club and DPW.

Volunteers pick up supplies at the town garage at last year’s Earth Day event.

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m., when volunteers gather at the town garage at 65 Union Ave. to pick up supplies and receive their assigned cleanup locations.

“Usually there’s several streets that get litter-prone every year,” said Refuse & Recycling Coordinator Andrea Hall. “People also call with requests. It’s wherever there’s a need, and wherever people want to go.”

Hall said between 250 and 300 people show up each year for the all-ages morning of service, depending only partially on the weather.

“It’s really big, and it’s fun,” Hall said of the event. “The people who come to this event, they’re really passionate about the environment – picking up litter in rain and wind. There’s very dedicated people who clean up on Earth Day.”

The early morning kickoff will also include coffee and donuts for volunteers, provided annually by Dan’s Management, as well as raffles and prize giveaways. Organizers will hand out gloves, bags and t-shirts to participants, who are also given a phone number to call in case they run out of supplies.

“I’ll drive around and give out bags or donuts – whatever they need,” said Hall.

And since volunteers are registered at the town garage, Hall knows where to dispatch crews later to pick up collected bags of refuse after volunteers finish up at 1 p.m.. Four DPW employees help out with collection.

“We divide the town into quadrants,” Hall said.

The event is just one of several ways the green-minded town celebrates the day. Hall also organizes a “Make it, Take it,” event, where elementary school students make crafts from recycled items, and helps out with the Earth Day poster contest at Jesse Smith Library.

She notes that while the turnout for the event is usually great, there’s always room for more volunteers. Community service certificates are printed on site.

“It’s amazing the people who come,” Hall said.

To sign up for the annual cleanup or request pickup in a specific area, contact Dana Gould at (401) 338-6334 or Hall at (401) 568-9470 or ahall@burrillville.org.

Supplies will also be available year round for residents who want to keep town streets clean. Contact Hall for more information.

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