Midland will be participating in the annual Pitch-In Canada Week from April 20-26.
A little girl and her mother, however, got a one-week head start on Monday.
Brenda de Rusett and her daughter Serenity, 7, cleaned up around the grounds of the old Regent Public School, which closed in 2007.
“We were over at the school on Sunday, and she was riding her bike in the parking lot and we noticed all the glass and the garbage,” said de Rusett.
“(On Monday), I said, ‘What would you like to do today?’ And she said, ‘I’d like to go over to the school and clean it up.”
De Rusett was dubious at first, but Serenity insisted.
“She said, ‘No, we’ve gotta go. It’s our environment, and we’ve gotta think of the community.’”
Serenity attended the Russell Street school as a junior kindergarten student, but it closed and now she’s in Grade 2 at Huron Park Public School.
These days, her time at the school consists only of playful excursions from her nearby home.
“Kids like to come here and ride their bikes and stuff, and they wouldn’t want to come here and have fun if it was all dirty,” explained Serenity. “There was glass all over.”
With gardening gloves, rakes and brooms, mom and daughter spent more than five hours picking up trash on Monday.
“I’m very proud,” said de Rusett, noting Serenity’s devotion to the environment originates at home and at school.
Regarding the litterbugs and vandals responsible for the state of the property, de Rusett said it is terrible.
“I cannot believe people would do that,” she said. “Everybody was concerned when the school closed that’s what would happen…. It must be really an eyesore for the people who live across the road.”
Serenity said she hopes others will hear about her efforts and attempt something similar in their neighbourhoods.
Midland residents will have that chance during next week’s 43rd annual Pitch-In Canada Week. With 3.5 million participants, the program is the largest multi-province environmental improvement campaign in Canada. Its goals include:
• involving Canadians in local projects that clean up, restore and/or preserve the environment;
• cleaning up litter and other garbage from urban, rural and wilderness areas;
• initiating local projects such as habitat preservation/restoration and urban renewal activities, thereby promoting respect for Canada’s natural and urban environments;
• encouraging civic pride.
Andrea Rabbitts, a Midland town planner and Pitch-In Canada Week co-ordinator, said the municipality is a big believer in the program.
“There’s 150 letters that went out to local businesses, schools and organizations asking them if they have the time and the volunteers to participate,” she said, noting Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Pillsbury are among those that have responded in the affirmative.
She added several local schools intend to do their part on Earth Day (April 22), and town employees will clean up the area around County Road 93 and Yonge Street.
Rabbitts said she shares de Rusett’s bafflement over the amount of litter produced by “lazy people that have just thrown stuff out the (car) window.”
“It’s crazy,” she said. “People just don’t care.”
For that reason, Rabbitts said, she is particularly happy to see a youngster like Serenity taking responsibility for her environment.
“Picking up garbage is something all children can do,” she said. “It’s great to see the inspiration is in someone that young to go out and help and make a statement.”