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Jenny Tennant’s goal for her 40-plus STEM Lab students March 17 was steep: collect 70 bags of garbage during the annual cleanup.
“We are a part of the community,” Tennant, a second-grade teacher at the Northglenn school said. “Our mission is community outreach and we want to get outside and help the community. We want to show that we’re not just taking from the community, but we’re giving back.”
Tennant has brought her class out to help every year for seven years. On Saturday, her class included nearly 40 children, their parents and several former students who still wanted to contribute to the cleanup cause.
Tennant has had a goal every year to beat the previous year’s collection totals. Having accomplished that feat every year so far, she said the group needs to collect more than 70 bags this year. In just more than 30 minutes, a sizable group of large black trash bags sat on the edge of both sides of the sidewalk, as the group made quick progress.
The city of Northglenn organizes the trash cleanup in the Farmers Highline Canal each year, stretching around the E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park and through 13 miles of pathways into Thornton.
This year, the cleanup was organized into multiple zones, in which city groups and independent volunteers came out in droves to rid the canal of trash, litter and hindering weeds.
Just as Tennant’s group’s numbers have gone up every year, so has the city’s.
The city’s Community Outreach Coordinator Jenni Murphy said the city collected an estimated 500-plus bag of trash and filled two large roll-off containers. In addition, there were as many as ten truckloads of large items, such as mattresses, tires, shopping carts and other related items.
wThe number of bags is significantly higher than last year, where an estimated 350 bags were collected.
“I think a combination of having such a dry winter has created a lot more debris,” Murphy said. “Then, we had 267 volunteers. Anytime that many people are helping, it’s incredible what you can get done. We were also able to get a lot of large branches out of the canal area which will help the water flow come April.”
Several of Tennant’s former students still help out every year, even one named Tanner Bolin, who had moved from the community up to Frederick. However, he and his family still return to their roots for the annual cleanup.
“I enjoy helping with this. It’s almost turned into a hobby of mine,” Bolin, 13, said. “I see it dirty again when I come back, and it makes me want to clean it up again.”
In another area of the canal, a group of city employees and their families turned the cleanup into a scavenger hunt of sorts. The group found four shoes, two pairs of socks, underwear, a T-shirt, a hoodie and a hat — all discarded into their zone of the canal.
“All we’re missing is the pants and we have a full outfit,” City Employee Tracey Bowlds said.
Judy Halverson has lived in Northglenn for 46 years and currently owns a home whose back porch looks into E.B. Rains Park.
It’s not just a community outreach program for her, but part of what she sees every day from her home.
“I love this park and I’m really proud of it,” she said. “I volunteer for this every year. When I see how filthy it becomes every year, it’s really discouraging. There are trash cans all around this park, so there’s no reason people can’t throw their trash away.”
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