Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 22, 2013

Volunteers pick up trash for Earth Day

Syringes, cellphone, pants found during cleanup.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— Twelve-year-old Deonta Chamberlain wants to keep Kokomo’s Studebaker Park clean because that’s where he goes on warm days to play basketball and hang out.

So on Monday, to celebrate Earth Day, Chamberlain joined about 25 other kids and adults from Carver Community Center, Kohl’s and the U.S. Army who volunteered to be part of the solution.

The group spent three hours picking up trash at both Studebaker and Somers parks.

And there was a lot. The group collected more than 25 bags of garbage by the end of the afternoon.

“We thought it wasn’t going to be a lot,” Chamberlain said.

But Chamberlain, 12-year-old JaQuan Daniel and 14-year-old Sahara Barbary found all kinds of plastic, cardboard boxes, cans, wrappers and straws at Studebaker Park.

Volunteers from Kohl’s said they found some “interesting” things at Somers Park. They assumed Friday’s floodwaters washed some uncommon items into the Jefferson Street park.

“If you can imagine it, we found it there,” one employee said.

Volunteers found men’s and women’s trousers, an IV bag, a cellphone and syringe.

Among the most common items were beer bottles or other broken glass pieces and candy wrappers, they reported.

“There was tons and tons of glass,” said Andrew Peters, store manager at the Kokomo Kohl’s.

Employees at the local Kohl’s volunteer about 25 times a year. This particular event was part of a corporate Go Green initiative.

They aimed to participate in a volunteer project that helped the environment and involved the community’s youth.

As part of the project, Carver Community Center received a $1,500 grant from the store.

And Kohl’s employees were able to get a little dirty while giving back, they said.

Sales associate Rebecca Pennington said she got stuck with thorns while maneuvering through trees to collect trash.

“It’s a pretty dirty job,” she said with a laugh.

What they were doing was no laughing matter, though. The volunteers said they were glad to get the glass and syringes out of the park where small children play.

“It’s tremendously important,” she said.