Jeana Vaughn is a busy woman. Through the week, the Halls resident works as a dental assistant in west Knoxville. In the evenings and on weekends she’s busy running her antique and upcycled resale shop, Vintage Etc., in Fountain City. She’s also a moderator of the I Love Fountain City Facebook page.
Though she has much on her plate, a few weeks ago she decided to toss something else on it for good measure: organizing a community clean-up day because, frankly, she was sick to death of seeing the litter strewn about up and down every road pretty much everywhere. So, she put out the call on the Fountain City page, ordered a food truck, set up her business parking lot as the gathering spot and went out to pick up trash on March 6.
“I just felt it was something that needed to be done,” Vaughn said. “I had always told my kids to never be so lazy that they believed it was anyone else’s place to pick up their garbage. I had seen several people mention the amount of (the litter) and felt the best way to show I was unhappy with it was to put my feet on the ground and clean it up.”
Vaughn said she and her group of volunteers picked up trash from I-640 at Broadway along Tazewell Pike up to Greenwood Cemetery and down Jacksboro Pike to Smithwood Baptist Church. The trash bags filled up the back of her trailer and included oddities like a brake pedal.
“Who just tosses a brake pedal out the window? The most consistent items were cigarette butts, airplane liquor bottles, lottery tickets and masks,” she said.
Vaughn coordinated her efforts with Keep Knoxville Beautiful (KKB). “They were great to work with. They provided bags, gloves, safety vests, trash grabbers, the orange litter crew sign. Picking up the materials was easy and quick.”
While certainly not a requirement for anyone who wants to go out and clean-up, KKB executive director Alanna McKissick does encourage any group wanting to organize a clean-up to contact the organization.
“Right now, city crews are not getting out in large numbers, they’re restricting numbers in vehicles due to the Covid pandemic,” McKissick said. “So, there is more trash to pick up, plus it is more visible in winter. But there are safety issues to consider before doing it.”
The first of which, she said, is to wear gloves. While trash grabbers also provide another layer of contact protection, “they also make the job easier on your back. And of course, there’s the safety vests and signs for visibility to drivers.”
The materials are free to use to any community, school or church group interested in doing a clean-up. The KKB office is located at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens on Wimpole Avenue.
“It’s almost spring, the weather is getting nicer, people are ready for things to bloom and look pretty,” McKissick said. “It’s great that people want to do this for their communities. But we also need to spread the word and teach others to not litter in the first place. Our motto is ‘don’t throw down on K-town.’ We have the resources here for proper disposal of everything. Use them.”
For more information on programs or to make a donation to KKB, go here.
Beth Kinnane is community editor for KnoxTNToday.com