Day of Service: AmeriCorps celebrates MLK Day with shoreline cleanup

AmeriCorps Interpretive Team Leader Kaitlin Edwards surveys the site of Monday’s Lake Allatoona Shoreline Trash Cleanup.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, AmeriCorps volunteers will underscore the importance of environmental stewardship during Jan. 15’s Lake Allatoona Shoreline Trash Cleanup.

Ongoing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the community service effort will take place at The Beach at Red Top Mountain State Park, Red Top Beach Road S.E. in Cartersville. A federal and state holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognizes the slain Civil Rights leader’s birthday and is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

“Volunteers will be collecting trash along Lake Allatoona’s shoreline at Red Top Mountain State Park,” said Kaitlin Edwards, 2017-2018 Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites AmeriCorps interpretive team leader and MLK Day of Service event coordinator. “We are hoping to cover over 5 miles of shoreline. However, volunteers will only walk a portion of the shoreline. We ask that volunteers bring gloves, weather-appropriate clothing, water and sturdy shoes. This service day is great for all ages, even kids. We ask that volunteers arrive 10 minutes early to sign a volunteer waiver.

“Volunteers will note any areas with pieces of trash that are too large to pick up, such as tires. We stress that participants do not have to pick up anything that they are uncomfortable touching. We mostly see common trash items, such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles.”

She continued, “I hope community members take this opportunity to remember Dr. King and recommit themselves as citizens by volunteering in service to one another and the environment we live in. Volunteering at Red Top Mountain State Park on Jan. 15 will allow community members to experience Lake Allatoona in a different way this MLK Day. We also hope to spread the word about AmeriCorps and encourage others to become environmental stewards in our community.”

Enhancing the programs of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites’ venues, Edwards’ team of seven full-time volunteers is based at Red Top.

“The long-winded purpose of my AmeriCorps team is to create and implement recreational, educational and historical programs and volunteer opportunities aimed at increasing visitation, physical activity and connection to the outdoors, through outreach to local communities surrounding the parks,” Edwards said. “... AmeriCorps is a core program under the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS), and a focus area of the CNCS is to mobilize citizens and volunteers to promote environmental stewardship.

“To me, connecting others to the outdoors through park programs and especially park volunteer opportunities is an important part of promoting environmental stewardship. We can then see firsthand how we impact our local environment and acknowledge our shared responsibility to protect it. Additionally, service and volunteering is an appropriate way to honor Dr. King because of his incredible legacy of service and commitment to advancing equality, social justice and economic opportunity for all.”

Echoing Edwards’ comments, Stephane Fortin — an AmeriCorps interpretive member — also looks forward to spurring interest in Georgia’s park system.

“I hope the volunteers gain a greater appreciation for the park and nature, and take away a sense of accomplishment for having come out and removed so much trash from the waters of Allatoona Lake,” Fortin said. “When the water level is up, it is easy to forget that there is trash that gets dropped and lost in the water; but when the water level is low, the trash becomes visible.

“The amount of trash is astonishing. What once looked beautiful has now been tarnished. Any help is greatly appreciated, and when volunteers come out and help, it reinforces the idea that someone still cares about stewardship.”

Further details about this service effort can be obtained by calling 770-975-4151. For more information on local events related to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, see Sunday’s edition of The Daily Tribune News.

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