Walking down the street to a Brookings park, Jessica Palmerin and her four-year-old daughter, Jaden, noticed how much trash littered the streets, sidewalks and grassy areas.
"I started to think of the local group the Trash Dogs and thought, 'Why don't we start a group called the Trash Puppies?'andthinsp;" Palmerin wrote in an e-mail to me.
"It would be a group comprised of children 4 years old and older. Parents would accompany their children as we walk through the schools and on down to Easy Manor Park for a little bit of play time at the end of our clean up. I was thinking we could do this one Sunday a month after church and before dinner; about 3 p.m."
What a wonderful idea, I told her, but she took it one step further.
"I have already spoken with the leader of the Trash Dogs and he said their group would be willing to donate the trash bags and let us dispose the trash at the dump using their account," she said.
Palmerin hopes this column about her idea will spark interest in the community.
"Not only would it be a good way to get our children together for some fun, it would teach them the importance of keeping our area clean and tidy," she said.
Ed Gross, a co-founder of the Trash Dogs, loved the idea.
"We're glad to help," Gross said. "We are willing to share our (collection) bags and get rid of the trash they collect. We'll pay the dump fees."
Having the Trash Dogs serve as mentor is a great advantage to the Trash Puppies. The Trash Dogs is a group of adult volunteers who have collected tons of garbage including abandoned vehicles, furniture, tires, appliances and mattresses. They have trash-busting down to a science.
The Trash Dog's efforts continue to garner accolades, the most recent being the E-Chievement Award handed out by the nationally-syndicated eTown Radio Show broadcast on public radio stations.
Show listeners from around the country send in nominations of remarkable individuals who work hard to make a positive difference in their communities, from cleaning rivers to helping the homeless. After being notified of winning the award, Gross and Trash Dog co-founder Harve Timeus were interviewed on the program, which aired several times in January and can now be heard via streaming radio at http://www.etown.org/awards.past.php.
Last year, the Trash Dogs received a $17,325 grant from the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. That, and other funding, is what will alow the group to help the Trash Puppies get started.
Gross said he's looking forward to working with Palmerin, especially to ensure the safety of the children involved.
"Safety is important when you have small kids walking on the streets," he said. "We could help them get safety vests, perhaps put signs up along the road letting motorists know trash pick-up is happening. We have some trash-picker sticks, with the clamps on the end, that we can share with her."
Palmerin is planning to take Gross up on his offer. "He was so excited and I'm so happy that he likes what I'm doing."
Others who like what Palmerin is doing can join her for the first Trash Puppies clean up at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Brookings-Harbor High School parking lot.