Cierra Skiles was out for a walk with her children along the Washington Riverfront Trail when they began to notice how much trash the floodwaters had left behind.
As they were leaving the area, Skiles created a Facebook page to encourage people to help clean up the trash.
Right away about 15 people joined the Nature’s Clean-Up Crew page and then helped pick up trash along the trail Saturday, Aug. 3.
“We picked up over 20 bags of trash,” said Skiles.
The trash was collected in mesh, reusable bags, as well as regular trash bags. Ideally, Skiles would like to use only mesh bags for future events, but more are needed.
Volunteers also filled a truck bed with larger items such as barrels, tires and a seat from a car, among other things.
The group picked up trash for about four to five hours at the trail.
Skiles’ grandfather, Les Bush, then helped her sort the trash to take what could be recycled to the recycling center in Washington.
A bottle filled with syringes also was found and was taken to the Washington Police Station.
“The police took it from us and disposed of it at the hospital,” said Skiles.
Later that day Skiles posted photos from the cleanup to the Facebook page.
“Almost overnight I gained 150 new volunteers to the group for future cleanups,” she said.
The next scheduled cleanup is set for Saturday, Aug. 10, starting at 11 a.m. It will be held at a spot behind the Walmart in Union, under a bridge.
“The cleanup will go until we can’t see any more trash or feel confident that it is a safe environment for the animals that live there,” said Skiles, who noted the location is a secluded area with a railroad track. She said a lot of people go there to take pictures.
“Our goal is to clean up an area in Missouri every weekend,” she said, noting the group will initially focus on Franklin County.
“I hope we can move onto bigger locations eventually,” she added.
The area slated to be cleaned up this Saturday is littered with syringes, trash and large pieces of furniture, according to Skiles.
A cooler full of water and Gatorade will be provided for volunteers by Skiles, who added they will be recycling those bottles as well.
The date, time and location for each cleanup will be posted on the Facebook page.
The group is currently accepting donations for T-shirts made from recycled material. Any extra donations will be donated toward saving marine wildlife.