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Volunteers cleaning up their communities, river banks

Saturday is Earth Day, and a number of community organizations will donate their time to make the area a bit cleaner.

Two of the groups will focus on the Lehigh River - and said any help is appreciated.

“Jim Thorpe Earth Day Inc. organizes the event,” Shelli Holland said of the Saturday cleanup along the Lehigh River. “This has been going on for 26 years.”

Volunteers will meet at Josiah White Park at 8 a.m., where they will receive trash bags, gloves and safety vests.

“We pick up trash along the riverbed from approximately Highland Beverage to the Jim Thorpe Market,” Holland said. Volunteers will receive instructions on where to start and where to leave the collected trash, Holland said.

She’s been involved for a number of years, and said cleanup crews find “all kinds of stuff,” including tires, soda cans and bottles, money and batteries.

“It feels great to do the cleanup because it is my way of doing something for the community,” Holland said.

Participants will receive a free lunch when their work is done.

Holland said those who can’t make it might want to do a little sprucing up in their own communities.

“Let’s make our world a clean place to live,” Holland said.

The Walnutport Canal Association will hold its annual canal cleanup Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Participants should gather at the Lehigh Street pavilion before the event begins and bring their own gloves. Tools will be supplied.

Jeanne Boehrer, the association treasurer, said the cleanup has been held for many years.

“We have a core group of members numbering about 25 that have consistently helped with the cleanup for a number of years along with community members that have shown up for years also,” she said. “We appreciate everyone’s help making the Walnutport Canal area beautiful.”

Participants range in age from local Cub Scouts to older adults, she said.

“We serve a light lunch so that helps too!” Boehrer said.

Other groups are cleaning streets and sidewalks through Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, a program that Jim Thorpe Earth Day Inc. is part of.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful helps organize “Pick Up Pennsylvania” events throughout the year, including a spring event that runs from March 1 to May 31.

Many organizations choose to tidy up their communities on Earth Day.

Locally, Lansford Alive will host a cleanup Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and participants will meet at Kennedy Park.

The Slatington Parks and Recreation Commission will also get involved Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will spruce up the borough, Trout Creek and parts of the Lehigh River.

And more than 500 volunteers will spend Earth Day removing trash from roads across the Pocono Mountains as part of the “Pick Up the Poconos Spring Cleanup,” organized by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

Last year, there were almost 66,000 volunteers who participated in 4,942 events throughout the state, according to statistics from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. By cleaning 7,863 miles of roads, shorelines and trails, they collected 3.4 million pounds of trash, and 1.66 million pounds of materials for recycling.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police announced increased penalties for those caught littering in Litter Enforcement Corridors.

The corridors are designated stretches of road that have a high aesthetic or historic value, or need some additional help with litter issues.

Motorists caught scattering rubbish in these areas face fines that can be doubled up to $1,800, and if accused, they must provide up to 30 hours of community service in a litter removal program.

Corridors are marked with signs to alert travelers of the additional fines.