Keep Las Cruces Beautiful now has help from the community despite COVID-19 and the public health restrictions associated with the pandemic as community groups and individuals have stepped up to fill the gap to help clean up Las Cruces.
One such group is the Sonoma Ranch North Trash Buddies, an ad-hoc, all-volunteer cleanup group organized in January to do monthly neighborhood trash pickups. Trash Buddies is the invention/creation of Ms. Laraine Jansen, who has had some experience with trash pick-up event and water restoration projects in her hometown of Venice, FL. This was a group project encouraged by the City’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy as a resident-driven activity to benefit the community.
“I noticed that the wind was blowing trash into my neighborhood here in Sonoma Ranch North, mostly from construction areas and from the school parking lot area nearby,” Jansen said. “I spoke to neighbors and found out others were picking up trash, for example, when they walked their dogs. So, I asked several neighbors if they would be interested in picking up the trash as a group once a month.”The Sonoma Ranch North Trash Buddies was born.
The group meets at 8 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month and works anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour. “Any time anyone can spare to pick up trash is appreciated,” Jansen said. Trash Buddies events take place in the Sonoma Ranch North area including along streets and sidewalks, the arroyos, and a couple of empty lots. Sometimes they will clean up the empty commercial lots along Northrise Drive and Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.
Trash Buddies follows pandemic safety mandates in place by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing by not working as a group. Jansen added, “We go off on our own, but I like to make sure that we are within sight of at least one other worker.” The group tracks their volunteer hours and has accumulated 62.75 hours since January. Sometimes volunteers will do cleanups at other times on their own and send Jansen their hours.
“Trash Buddies is a wonderful example of how community members can self-organize to benefit everyone in Las Cruces,” said Jamey Rickman, Community Engagement Manager, and facilitator for the City’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy. Rickman encourages anyone who might have an idea about helping the community to contact the city at email@example.com. “We’re always open to how the City can support these community efforts as a partnership,” Rickman added.
Anyone is welcome to join in the Trash Buddies clean-up efforts. “I carry paper and pen with me when cleaning up so I can sign people up,” she said. “We have a lovely neighborhood, and no one likes to see trash. Trash is one of my pet peeves,” added Jansen.
Keep Las Cruces Beautiful (KLCB) wants to help community members in their volunteer efforts to clean up areas of the community. KLCB can supply trash bags, gloves,safety vests, and pick-up tools free of charge to anyone planning a voluntary clean-up. Supplies are available from 8 – 10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center, 304 Bell. Ave. (near the corner of Bell Ave. & Linden Ave.). Look for the KLCB canopy.
KLCB and the City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department appreciate the community pitching in to pick up trash during the pandemic shut down and encourage those who do so to observe COVID-19 guidelines of staying in small groups of five or fewer, practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and keeping hands clean to stay safe. For more information about Trash Buddies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 575/528-4551.
For more information about supplies, contact James Woods, Keep Las Cruces Beautiful Coordinator at email@example.com or 575/312-0531.