Volunteers needed for Red River Cleanup

A Red River Cleanup volunteer picks up trash at last year's event.
Amanda Simmons

Area residents are being asked to put on some gloves and help clean up the Red River.

The seventh annual Red River Cleanup will be held Saturday, Nov. 5. Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Stoner Boat Launch in Shreveport.

Adam and Lisa Willard are the husband and wife duo who created the Red River Cleanup. They started this venture in 2010 after a recreational paddle down river revealed a trash problem that seemed to go unnoticed.

Wanting to make a difference, the Red River Cleanup was formed.

On the first Saturday of November, residents from Shreveport and Bossier show their community pride by gathering along the Red River to remove trash and debris from the water and its surrounding areas. 
Despite the rain last year, more than 350 volunteers showed up to take out the trash…almost 12,000 pounds of it. In the six years of the cleanup’s existence, volunteers have removed almost 50,000 pounds of trash from the area.

Event organizers say a clean river and river bank is not only pleasing to the eye but promotes a healthy city.

“A clean city is an attractive city,” Lisa Willard said. “We want to continue bringing in new companies, more jobs, and sporting events to this region. This will help those efforts.”

The Red River Cleanup also promotes watershed education, which zeroes in on how the trash got to the river and what to do to prevent it.

“People who volunteer see how dirty it is and it gets them thinking,” Lisa said. “You can bet they won’t be the ones throwing out trash. They will be part of the movement that helps educate their children, family and friends on the importance of keeping our communities clean.”

Fun is a big part of the cleanup’s mission. Once volunteers have picked up their share of trash, they are rewarded with a free lunch donated by local restaurants and awarded prizes in our Crazy Trash Find contest.

The river and outer banks are full of strange, creepy and unusual trash. 
Lisa said a highlight of the day is seeing what’s exactly out there. Last year they found a “tire graveyard,” a dumping site where they hauled out 96 tires. Volunteers have also found things like cell phones, skates, refrigerators, and mannequins.

Cleanup efforts are the direct result of committed volunteers and donations from sponsors. Lisa said none of this would be possible without them.

Information for Volunteers: Everything you need to safely pick up trash will be given to you at registration, which starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. Registration will be under the pavilion at Stoner Boat Launch in Shreveport. You will sign a waiver, receive a wrist band, a free event t-shirt, pickers, gloves, a drawstring backpack with trash bags and bottled water.  Recommend attire is long pants, sneakers, long sleeved t-shirt and a jacket for the cooler morning weather.  
Once you are finished registering, you will be greeted by a RRC guide. They will escort you to 3 canopies where you will be asked if you prefer to ride a boat, ride a shuttle/bus, or casually walk along the river, pathways on Clyde Fant. Boat riders will be escorted to waiting boats, given a life jacket and taken to designated spots along the river to cleanup trash. Minimum age to ride on the boats is 12 years old. Shuttle/bus riders will be escorted to waiting vehicles and be driven to designated areas along the river to cleanup trash. 
Any volunteer under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult or group leader.

For more information on the Red River Cleanup, visit www.redrivercleanup.com or their Facebook page.