Apr. 17—ALBANY — For 30 years, Judy Bowles has overseen the city of Albany's annual Stash the Trash community awareness/cleanup event. In those 30 years, she's pretty much seen and done it all.
Now, though, the Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful director can add cleaning up the community during a pandemic to her long list of accomplishments.
Despite predicted threatening weather, hundreds of volunteers turned out on a perfect, cool and overcast Saturday morning to clean up designated areas in the community, a plan that allowed for proper social distancing while volunteers gathered debris.
"It can be frustrating; we get these threatening weather reports, and then the day turns out to be absolutely perfect," Bowles said. "My hope is that all the groups that had volunteered went ahead with the cleanup in their neighborhoods. I told the ones who were concerned about the weather to plan for next week, so some of them may have made alternate plans.
"I'll know Monday which groups of volunteers went ahead with the program, but it'll be after next Saturday before we have a total of trash collected."
Bowles said she went out from 8:30-10 a.m. Saturday with Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard's group in east Albany, a gathering of 20 or so volunteers that included Albany Mayor Bo Dorough.
"It was unbelievable how much trash there was in the Brierwood neighborhood," Bowles said. "They have a neighborhood watch group that picks up once a week. It seems that in most neighborhoods there are always one or two houses where the people don't have enough pride to keep their community clean.
"Active neighborhood groups like those in Brierwood, Winwood, Rawson Circle and others are the groups that make a community proud."
Dougherty County Library System employees Krista Dixon and Sabrina Little were among the city of Albany/Dougherty County volunteers who were out Friday morning collecting debris downtown to kick off Stash the Trash.
"It's a little different this year with COVID; we didn't have the usual gathering at the government center," Dixon said. "But our goal is the same, to clean up our designated areas under the social distancing guidelines in place."
"I think most employees who had the opportunity wanted to get involved in beautifying our downtown," added Little. "These were all volunteers, and a lot of them are out there today, doing their part."
Bowles had special praise for the Stash the Trash volunteers and sponsors.
"These people and businesses are involved because they have pride in their community," she said.
Sponsors included Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power, the Darsey Family Foundation, Metro Power, Southeast Aluminum Recycling, Mauldin and Jenkins, Flint Equipment and Oxford Construction Co.