Students and Athens residents gathered on a warm Sunday to volunteer for the 13th annual Athens Beautification Day.
Athens Beautification Day, an event where Ohio University students and local residents volunteer to clean up areas in Athens, kicked off Sunday morning at 9. Volunteers could choose between a morning shift, an afternoon shift or both.
Volunteers gathered on College Green to register and join their project groups. They reassembled on College Green at 11 a.m. for a pizza break and were sent out again to work from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. if they were participating in the afternoon shift. Projects included planting flowers in front of City Hall, removing graffiti around the city and more.
“Physically, streets are often much cleaner after today,” Selena Snyder, the director of Athens Beautification Day, said. “There’s a lot of physical beautification you see.”
Snyder said 938 students and Athens residents pre-registered for Athens Beautification Day. She said the amount of people working together strengthens the bond between the university and the city.
“In terms of relationships, you’ll see community members become closer with students,” Snyder, a junior studying math and neuroscience, said. “It’s fantastic seeing everyone come together and seeing how much they enjoy it.”
It takes all year to prepare for Athens Beautification Day, Snyder said, including fundraising efforts for community service projects including the 13 shuttles to and from sites. They also provide volunteers with free pizza and t-shirts. Local businesses also helped: Lowe’s donated 70 bags of mulch, Walmart donated a $50 gift card and Kroger donated banana boxes and 500 bottles of water.
Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones addressed the crowd before the afternoon shift on the importance of taking care of Athens as if it were their own community.
“When I greet first year students, I talk about getting to know Athens and treating this community as if it’s (their) own, because it is,” she said. “I hope (they) know this is not just a one-day thing, it’s an all-year thing.”
Kayela Majoros, a sophomore studying sociology-criminology, said she was glad to have an opportunity to give back to the community.
“I love Athens, so I’ll do anything I can, even clean up trash or do landscaping, to make a difference,” she said.
A sunny day in the 70s provided a nice backdrop for volunteers looking to make a difference, Majoros said.
“It was hot, sweaty and fun,” Xavier Barrett, a freshman studying biological science, said. “I loved it.”
Originally published for The Post on April 9, 2017.