By Shawn Kirkpatrick
He is a native son of Opelika and has a passion for the city and its future. As a member of the 2018 class of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce’s ‘20-Under-40’ program, Wade Berry’s goal is to help clean up his hometown, one mile at a time.
The class is teaming up with Keep Opelika Beautiful (KOB) for their 20-Under-40 Adopt-A-Mile Service Project.
Berry, a marketing and communications Specialist at Auburn University, explained that the whole class came together and pitched ideas. “We were trying to figure out a way to help Opelika on a larger scale and litter was one of those things.”
Berry said any mile within the city limits can be adopted, whether in downtown or in a local neighborhood. “Our objective is to get 20 businesses in the Opelika area to adopt a mile. We’d love to have more, our minimum is 20. Every mile in Opelika could be adopted, and we would be very happy with that.”
Once a business signs up for a mile, they get a plaque from the 20-Under-40 group as a thank you. Plus, KOB will supply the bags, reflector vests and gloves to help with cleaning up the mile. “There is a $300 fee that goes toward paying for a sign with the group’s name on it that marks their mile,” Berry said. “The only other stipulation is that each organization has to clean up their mile a minimum of six times a year.”
The group would like to have all participating businesses signed up by the end of February to coincide with Opelika’s Citywide Cleanup in March. It is part of a nationwide event called the Great American Cleanup hosted by Keep America Beautiful. It is the nation’s largest community improvement program, with more than 5 million volunteers in 20,000 communities across the country who clean up litter and debris.
Berry and the group not only want to raise litter awareness, but grow a conscience for people to want to keep Opelika beautiful.
“Think about – this is your town, this is your home, why throw trash on the side of the road,” Berry said. “You can always make a difference, but at the same time you might not think so when the problem is really big. But if you’re doing a little bit of something, you’re doing enough. By coming out and cleaning up the streets a little, you’re doing your part.”
Organizations interested in adopting a mile can call KOB at (334)749- 4970 or email Tipi@keepopelikabeautiful.com to express their interest in helping with the project.
Turn to B8 for more service project photos.