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    Students to bag garbage on shores of Wolf River Harbor

    L. Taylor Smith - The Daily Helmsman -

    In 2011, University of Memphis students combined efforts with students from Christian Brothers University, Rhodes College and local high schools in order to remove the garbage that overwhelms the banks of McKellar Lake.

    In total, they gathered 15,000 pounds of trash over six months and recycled 80 percent of it.

    This year, they’re shifting their focus from the lakeside to the riverfront.

    On Saturday, volunteers from across the city will converge at Wolf River Harbor by Mud Island to haul away plastic and glass bottles, Styrofoam cups, plastic bags and other junk that has washed onto the shore. While they will attempt to recycle as much as possible, some things can’t be salvaged.

    Colton Cockrum, volunteer coordinator for the clean up and assistant director of the Honors Program at the U of M, said items that can’t be recycled include tires, refrigerators, furniture and other large items.
    “The waste problem comes from citizens not taking pride in their city and their communities,” Cockrum said. “I guarantee that someone smoking on the sidewalk doesn’t realize that their cigarette butt is going to end up in the Mississippi River eventually.”
    The clean up at Wolf River Harbor began when the Wolf River Conservancy, a non-profit organization focused on protecting the Wolf River watershed, contacted Cockrum after seeing the success that U of M students had with McKellar Lake.

    “People are drawn to student-driven projects because they usually have the most success,” Cockrum said. “And this kind of effort is impossible without Memphis students’ passion. Memphis students are the ones serving as team leaders, scouting the areas and pushing this effort.”
    Although the recent rains have swept in more trash, green-minded Memphians are dedicated to alleviating as much of the problem as possible.

    Bianca Russell, junior accounting major and community service chair for Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity, plans to attend the clean up with other members of her organization in order to actively help the city of Memphis.

    “The Theta Psi chapter holds service as a core value and strives to fulfill this necessity by giving back to our own community,” Russell said. “We are honored to actively take a stance with other servant leaders to keep Memphis clean.”

    In addition to support from non-profit organizations and student volunteers, Outdoors Inc. is sponsoring the event by giving the first several hundred volunteers a free item, such as a water bottle or hat.
    Mayor A.C. Wharton may also make an appearance. He is currently at a meeting in St. Louis concerning the river, and if he is back in time, he will briefly address volunteers as they begin the process of bagging garbage.

    Tremaine McKinley, junior Asian studies and international trade major, attended the McKellar Lake clean ups with his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. McKinley, who will attend this weekend’s clean up with some of his fraternity brothers, is eager to eliminate trash from the banks of the Mississippi River.

    “These clean ups are one of the more fun ways to serve the community,” said McKinley. “There is no telling what you and your friends can find out there, and when you’re done, you can see how much good you’ve done and how much more there is to do.”

    The clean up starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m. Volunteers attending the clean up should bring a pair of work gloves along with a water bottle. They are advised to wear long pants and old shoes because they may be working in overgrown areas.