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Team Up to Clean Up: Fall Clean Sweep reimagined

LAPLACE — The traditional Fall Clean Sweep has been reimagined to include COVID-19 safety provisions and identify areas in need of a little community care in each individual Council District.

The St. John the Baptist Parish community is invited to “Team Up to Clean Up” from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19. Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said volunteers are needed, and lunch and supplies will be provided to those who participate.

“Before I first took office, I always wanted to do a little something different for Clean Sweep and make it to where we identify areas of focus in each one of the Districts. That way we could actually see a before and after and have the community involved in those particular areas,” Hotard said.

Each St. John Parish Council member identified areas in his or her district that could use attention, whether through grass cutting, trimming trees or picking up litter strewn across the ground.

While volunteer groups will pay special attention to these areas of need, they will not be limited to these sites. For instance, members of a religious group may choose to clean up the grounds surrounding their church.

Social distancing precautions are being taken in light of COVID-19. Rather than gathering in one area at the end of the clean sweep as was done in past years, volunteers will pick up grab and go lunches.

“We’re having to incorporate COVID-19 provisions into this, but we still felt it was important to have this community event. The community looks forward to it. We weren’t able to do it in the spring because we were under the stay at home order at the time, but we believe we can safely do it now,” Hotard said.

“I think when the community sees everyone taking the initiative to take part in how their community looks, it improves the community feel. We’re all in it together, and we all care about the look and the overall health of our community.”

Residents can also protect their homes from drainage and flooding problems by voluntarily cleaning ditches and drains in their neighborhood. Hotard said picking up everyday litter on the ground can also go a long way toward improving drainage in St. John Parish.

“We know that litter affects drainage systems because what people throw down on the ground eventually makes its way through a ditch and more than likely into a pump. Even if it is just in a ditch, litter can block the flow of water,” Hotard said.

Registration is required in order for participants to receive Community Clean Up Day T-shirts and cleaning supplies. Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, trash bags and trash pickers are among the supplies that will be provided.

Please register by calling 985-652-9569.

Those who do not register are still welcome to participate in the Community Clean Up but may need to bring their own supplies.

The local clean up is an extension of Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s Love the Boot campaign, which seeks to “create a clean Louisiana for future generations, engage communities to clean up Louisiana, educate citizens to change behaviors that create litter and make a strong, sustainable movement.”

Hotard said there are numerous ways the community can get involved on a daily basis. A show of support can be small, large or anything in between; checking on the elderly, calling a friend or reminding a neighbor to complete the Census are simple ways to show community care.

By getting involved in the community, someone may find a passion for volunteering at the Animal Shelter, supporting local libraries or changing lives in the local school system. Shopping local is another way an individual can make a difference, especially as St. John Parish recovers from COVID-19.

“Being kind to one another never goes out of style. You never know what the other person is experiencing. Being nice sometimes is all it takes,” Hotard said.