Dorinda Morpeth, solid waste program manager for Fort Benning, climbs back up to the road after gathering trash from the waterAca,!a,,cs edge during the 2007 Help the Hooch. The program is in its 15th year in Columbus and 11th year on post.

FORT BENNING, GA- A rusted 55-gallon drum, an old couch and several used tires - those are just a few of the things found in and around Fort Benning's waterways during last year's Help the Hooch, said Jesse Taylor, clean water technician for the Environmental Management Division on post.

Taylor said Soldiers and civilians can make a difference again this year by helping pick up litter Monday as part of the 15th annual Help the Hooch, a community-wide cleanup event.

Interested volunteers should meet at 8 a.m. Monday at Building 6 for a safety briefing and to receive trash bags and gloves, said Brittany Beadle, recreation specialist with Outdoor Recreation. All ages and ability levels are welcome.

Volunteers will divide into teams and fan out to 18 sites, including Uchee Creek, Upatoi Creek, Russ Pond and Kings Pond. People can gather litter from the water's edge or from inside a boat or canoe.

DA Civilians are allowed to participate, mission permitting, without taking leave, Beadle said.
At noon, a free lunch, catered by Country's Barbecue, will be served at Uchee Creek Campground and Marina for volunteers.

Beadle encouraged people to come out with their families, units or coworkers for a good cause.

"Our waterways give us drinking water, and they're also great recreation opportunities for canoeing, fishing, kayaking and boating. They're great places that provide a break to our busy lifestyle," she said. "Keeping them clean is important, so people can continue to enjoy their natural resources."

"And it's just a fun time," Taylor said. "You're outside and you're working with people, and you know when you're done, you have a cleaner environment, a cleaner place to play in."
People who want to help clean up the Chattahoochee River in Columbus can volunteer today and Saturday. They can also drop off their electronics, paint and other hazardous waste from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the recycling warehouse on 22nd Avenue off Victory Drive.

The annual Watershed Festival, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Golden Park in Columbus, raises awareness about litter, environmental management and the importance of clean water, Taylor said. It includes games for kids, inflatables, food and informational exhibits and is open to the community.

Participating in Help the Hooch helps people understand just how much trash ends up in the water, where it hurts animals and pollutes rivers, said Taylor, who started volunteering six years ago.

"I participated in one event, and that completely changed the way I thought about everything," she said. "We only have one environment. Some people think, 'everybody does it; it's just one plastic bottle.' Nobody really thinks of it as a pollutant, but it is, (and) it's cumulative. Some environmental studies now show there's more plastic in the ocean than plankton."

Free T-shirts are available for volunteers while supplies last. For more information about volunteering on Fort Benning, call 706-545-9636. For more about volunteering in Columbus, call Keep Columbus Beautiful at 706-653-4008.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16