benson group to green its 2013 spring clean up
February 13, 2013
It’s amazing what people bring to the Benson Neighborhood Association’s annual spring clean up. At past events, Liz Moldenhauer has helped neighbors dispose of couches. And windows. And bags of clothes. And once, even an air hockey table.
Moldenhauer, a member of the group’s board of directors, said that’s the idea behind the City of Omaha’s spring clean-up program – it helps neighborhood groups dispose of bulky items they can’t get rid of at the curb. The program, funded by the City of Omaha, is managed by city staff, Keep Omaha Beautiful, and partnering neighborhood and community groups.
“You can get pretty dirty, but it’s a really fulfilling event to work – you can literally see what you’ve accomplished when it’s over,” Moldenhauer said.
In recent years, the Benson clean up has resulted in four city truckloads of accumulated items each spring, which then make their way to the landfill. That got Moldenhauer, who’s also a jewelry artist and fashion designer, thinking – was there a way to find a new home or a new use for some of the collected items? One person’s trash, as the saying goes, is another person’s treasure.
The Benson Neighborhood Association (BNA) has recycled metal for years in conjunction with the clean up, Moldenhauer said. For the past four years, it has also partnered with the Community Bike Project Omaha to recycle bikes and bike parts collected during the event.
In 2012, the BNA invited the Paralyzed Veterans of America Donation Pickup Service to participate in the Benson clean up. A pair of volunteers from the pickup service examined the items that were dropped off before they were placed in the city trucks and retrieved any useful items in good condition. By the time the event was over, they had filled an entire truck with usable merchandise.
The pickup service picks up donations on behalf of the Great Plains Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), which then sells the donated goods in bulk to a local thrift store chain. “By partnering with the BNA in 2012, we were able to collect many items for reuse that normally would have been thrown away,” said the pickup service’s Ashley Greco. “We are excited for the 2013 clean up, as donations to the PVA Donation Pickup Service benefit not just paralyzed vets, but the community as a whole.”
This spring, Moldenhauer said, the BNA would like to increase its efforts to transform its clean up into a “green up.” In addition to partnering with the PVA Donation Pickup Service and the Community Bike Project Omaha once again, BNA volunteers plan to educate participants about the opportunity to recycle at the curb via the green bin program provided by the City of Omaha. “Some people don’t realize you can recycle phone books and cardboard and a whole lot more, all without leaving your home,” Moldenhauer said.
She’s also investigating potential recycling options for building materials that are dropped off. This year’s clean-up participants will also be able to pick up free graffiti clean-up kits from the Benson branch of the Omaha Public Library.
The BNA is one of nine neighborhood associations within the Benson-Ames Alliance. Andrew Rainbolt, co-chair of the Benson-Ames Alliance (B-AA) Steering Council, encouraged other associations in the alliance area to considering taking steps to green their clean ups as well. The B-AA – a grassroots group of community leaders formed to help revitalize the area bound by Western Avenue on the south, Sorensen Parkway on the north, Saddle Creek Road/Fontenelle Boulevard on the east and 72nd Street on the west – is striving to become a sustainable community that actively seeks a balance between its built and natural environments. Omaha by Design serves as its project manager.
“We’ve got some really forward-thinking people living and working and volunteering within the alliance area, and they really care about making a difference in their community,” Rainbolt said.
The 2013 BNA Clean Up is set for Saturday, April 27. For more information, contact Moldenhauer at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the City of Omaha’s spring clean-up program, contact Jim Detwiler at email@example.com. For more information about the City of Omaha’s recycling service or to see what items can be placed in the green bins, visit http://www.wasteline.org/mybin/index.htm.