Hundreds Roamed Streets And Parks Looking For Trash

It's been 20 years since the slogan "Don't Mess With Texas" came out to encourage Texans not to litter. Today, about 200,000 volunteers around the state participated in the nation's largest litter clean up event, "Don't Mess With Texas Trash-Off." In Tyler, more than 200 volunteers, young and old, came out to Rose Rudman Park this morning.

"It's Tyler's way of participating in a nationwide consciousness about picking up litter, and we want to make sure that Tyler does as much as any city to keep its parks beautiful," said Jim Noble, member of Keep Tyler Beautiful.

Much of the trash in Rose Rudman Park has settled in the creek that runs through the park. The creek's mud didn't stop volunteers from work. "We've got paper, wrappers, all kinds of trash bags, and a coat hanger," said 8-year-old volunteer Straten Hibbs. "We just love getting dirty. Our mothers will never let us at our house." In downtown Tyler, children filled 15 bags of trash from the Caldwell Soccer Field.

"I found socks, two pairs of boots, and a t-shirt," said 11-year-old volunteer Benzee Wickware. "Everybody found some overalls, shoes and some clothes, and I found a baseball," said 8-year-old volunteer Nigel Hubbard.

The children say they feel good about helping the community. "I didn't know our community was that full of trash and stuff," said 11-year-old volunteer Chelsia Bell.

"There are people who care enough to keep Tyler beautiful, to give up there Saturday morning to participate," said Noble. "Also all these young people, I don't think they will ever throw out another piece of trash out the window."

Each year, more than 800 million pieces of litter accumulate on Texas roadways, costing taxpayers nearly 40 million dollars.

Molly Reuter reporting,