Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

On Earth Day, volunteers clean up Capital Area Greenbelt, stress importance of pitching in

Capital Area Greenbelt Association and COVANTA volunteers on the Greenbelt

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by helping to keep our planet clean?

On a sunny Friday, a group of volunteers did just that by picking up trash along the Capital Area Greenbelt in Harrisburg.

“We know how important Earth Day is, but we really need to do something about it, not just talk about it,” said Pam Holtzman, a Capital Area Greenbelt Association (CAGA) board member.

CAGA volunteers worked to beautify a portion of the trail, between 19th and Cameron streets. Joining them were volunteers from COVANTA, a local waste management company that sponsors the portion of the trail by cleaning it regularly.

Partnerships like this keep Harrisburg’s trails beautiful and clean, Diane Kripas, CAGA events chair said. The Greenbelt is maintained by hundreds of volunteers each year, she said.

“The Greenbelt exists because of volunteers,” Kripas said. “The Greenbelt is one big volunteer effort.”

Every other week, COVANTA employees walk the trail, collecting trash. Since they’ve started volunteering, they’ve noticed a difference, said Kevin Conners, COVANTA facility manager.

“It’s a small way of giving back to the community,” he said. “Since we’ve been here, there’s been less trash.”

Trash collection is only a part of what Greenbelt volunteers do. They also plant new trees and plants, mow grass and restore walkways.

CAGA volunteer Donnie Zimmerman grew up in Harrisburg and remembers playing on the Greenbelt as a child. Now, as a retiree, he’s back at that same section of the trail, volunteering regularly so that his grandchildren and other kids can enjoy it.

“It’s a treat for me to come here,” Zimmerman said. “I’m retired. This gives me an opportunity to get out and exercise.”

CAGA has sponsors for all of its sections of trail, except for one. They are looking for an organization to sponsor and help maintain the portion from 19th to 28th street, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Garden.

“CAGA is committed to improving, protecting and maintaining the Greenbelt,” Kripas said. “We are hoping to be able to protect it for another century.”

For more information about the Capital Area Greenbelt Association, visit their website.

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