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Students help Rivers Alive keep waterways clean

 Last Saturday had VSU students up the creek without a paddle, but what they didn’t lack was a bunch of garbage.

Multiple student organizations took part in Rivers Alive, an annual event hosted by the city of Valdosta.

 Three organizations, The Collegiate Women of VSU, Black Student League and Chi Omega Sorority reported to the Oak Street Parking deck at 8:30 Saturday morning.

 Their mission was to collect trash and debris from a portion of the One Mile Branch Creek. The area covered went from Drexel Park to the nature trail behind Sustella parking deck.

 Heather Evans, Goodwill community needs program facilitator, and Dr. Molly Stoltz, board member of KLVB, were site coordinators.

 “We’re trying to clean the river up and make it healthy,” Stoltz said.

 The city of Valdosta added more locations to the cleanup route this year because of the large amount of volunteers.

 “This year was unlike most years, we had a great number of volunteers,” Evans said. “So many that we had to add more sites.”

 According to H. Aaron Stickland, executive director of Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful, there was approximately 265 volunteers at 10 work sites for the event.

 Groups shared their view on the event and reasons why they wanted to give back.

 “We wanted to bridge the gap by getting involved,” Shelby Dunbar, community service chair for the Black Student League, said. “Our organization is about giving back.”

 Approximately 15 students from the Black Student League participated in River’s Alive. The BSL volunteered for the event last year and hope to make it an annual activity.

 Three members of Chi Omega Sorority also attended the event.  Annabelle Smith, junior criminal justice major, Charlotte Black, junior early childhood/ special education major, and Alex Alter, freshman business management major, worked towards the community service hours their sorority requires. 

 “The creek’s kind of gross so, I was excited to do this,” Smith said.

 The 26 members who participated from the Collegiate Women of VSU plan on volunteering for the event again next year.

 “We want to make our campus look better, we would like to make it a tradition,” Mariah Nuckles, sophomore speech communications major, said.

 All three groups along with all volunteers in the city of Valdosta picked up numerous bags of trash located in rivers, streams, and creeks. 

 According to the Rivers Alive website, since the effort began, over 7.3 million pounds of garbage have been recovered from Georgia’s waterways. So far, approximately 13,866 volunteer hours have been put towards Rivers Alive this year.

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