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Conducting a Community Clean-up
Fix-up Campaign

by Robert "Stan" McAdoo

A clean, attractive community is not only a more pleasant place to live, but the value of the good impression it makes on prospective employers, professionals and others who visit your community should never be underestimated. Clean-up campaigns can involve a large number of citizens and give them a sense of accomplishment. They can even be fun.


The mayor, city council, or PRIDE Committee can appoint a clean-up, fix-up committee whose members can assume specific jobs. Leaders are needed who are skilled in organizing publicity, equipment, transportation, sanitary facilities, communications and volunteers.

Choose willing workers - people with the kind of enthusiasm that is infectious - and leaders who work well with others. A dozen people with a sincere desire to improve their community are worth a hundred professionals.

Organize early. Good planning takes time, and many weeks may be needed to complete arrangements.

Stay flexible. Be ready to accept and carry out suggestions from others.

Share the work. Invite members from community organizations to join the project. Contact civic and service clubs, 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, women's groups - everyone with an interest in the community environment.

The best way to get cooperation is to ask for it. You may need to involve the city council or police, fire, or street departments. Discuss the needs with city representatives, map out your plans on paper, then visit the people whose help you will need.

County Extension agents, Chamber of Commerce managers, district soil conservationists, city officials and other community leaders can provide valuable help during the planning stage.


Your committee should first make a list of community groups, including city officials, who are involved in beautification. Also make a list of projects they plan for the year.

Using the results of the clean-up and beautification checklist below as a guide, make a list of suggested projects. It may be necessary to make a tour of the city to assess the situation and set priorities.

Most community improvement activities involve public property. Some involve private property. In either case, you will need to check with the owners or officials responsible for the property before you plan the project.

Encourage action programs. Suggest activities for youth and adult groups, service organizations, garden clubs and individual homeowners.


The clean-up committee or other leaders may find it helpful to check the items below before deciding who and what to include in the campaign plan. Other areas or efforts not listed may be included.


Yes No

____ ____ 1. Signs at edges of town attractive.
____ ____ 2. Highway entrances landscaped, mowed and maintained.
____ ____ 3. Automobile graveyards removed or screened from view.
____ ____ 4. Community free of old car bodies.
____ ____ 5. Church grounds attractively landscaped with trees and shrubs and well maintained.
____ ____ 6. Public buildings and areas attractively landscaped with trees and shrubs and grounds mowed and maintained.
____ ____ 7. Dilapidated houses removed or plans made for improvement.
____ ____ 8. Parks and playgrounds attractively landscaped with trees and shrubs and well maintained.
____ ____ 9. Streets cleaned.
____ ____ 10. Railway rights-of-way through city mowed and maintained.
____ ____ 11. Refuse containers adequate and refuse areas clean and well kept.
____ ____ 12. Waste receptacles conveniently located in all business districts and emptied regularly.
____ ____ 13. Dead trees properly removed from parks, streets and private property.
____ ____ 14. Cemeteries attractive and well maintained.
____ ____ 15. Vacant lots and unoccupied areas mowed and kept free of weeds and litter.
____ ____ 16. Elderly or disabled homeowners given assistance in their property improve-ment and maintenance efforts.
____ ____ 17. Diseased trees identified and the planting of trees and shrubs encouraged by a tree board or committee.
____ ____ 18. Storefronts attractive.
____ ____ 19. Business and residential sidewalks in good repair.
____ ____ 20. Parking lots screened with trees or shrubs.
____ ____ 21. Mobile home courts attractively land-scaped with trees and shrubs.
____ ____ 22. Community yard of the month or week recognized.
____ ____ 23. Equipment in parks and playgrounds adequate and well maintained.


Develop a detailed plan - what to do, when, by whom and how. If costs are involved, draw up a budget and possible methods of financing or raising money.


After you are assured that everyone involved approves the projects, it is time to start the publicity phase. Along with recruiting participants, a good publicity program will demonstrate to the general public that people are concerned about city beautification and that a clean-up is an effective way to solve the problem.

You may want to schedule your campaign during Kansas Spring Clean-up Week to take advantage of its publicity.

Here are some tips:

  • Take plenty of pictures of the project areas for the news media to dramatize the problem. Stress human interest - perhaps a child frowning at a pile of litter or some of your committee members mapping plans for the campaign.
  • Announce the endorsement of public figures such as the mayor, civic club leaders and others prior to the campaign.
  • Prepare a leaflet or flyer explaining the projects with a map and distribute it widely. Remember, high school students are interested in the environment.
  • Ask radio, TV and newspapers to carry public service announcements or stories several days before the event.
  • Prepare posters and post them in conspicuous places in the community.


Send leaflets about the campaign to leaders of community organizations and others and follow up with a telephone call asking for help. Be prepared for and accommodate individuals who hear about the projects and just want to do their share. Make them feel welcome and give them a job to do.

Ask appropriate local business firms to furnish transportation and refreshments. City officials, farmers or others can provide trucks. Ask the workers to bring tools needed for the jobs.

If the area and facilities are suitable, conclude the project with a picnic supper or block party. Perhaps a local entertainer can help reward the volunteers by performing.


If your plans have been well laid and your preparations are in order, the actual clean-up is the easiest part of the job. As groups report to headquarters, team captains are given maps showing assigned areas to clean. They learn where to take the collected litter. Volunteers, using trucks, collect the bagged litter and haul it to the landfill for proper disposal.

You might consider recycling paper, glass and cans. Such efforts save money, conserve landfill space and protect the environment. In addition, income can be generated from the sale of recyclables. Information on recycling is available from your local county Extension office.

As the pioneer barn-raising drew people together a century ago, so can a volunteer campaign be an outstanding example of community cooperation and one that instills pride in every participant. Stay on schedule when carrying out the plan to keep interest and enthusiasm high.

After the event, tell of the accomplishments through the media. Write thank you notes to businesses that cooperated by loaning equipment or furnishing refreshments; people who carried the larger share of the load; and representatives of the media who gave assistance.

Follow-up is essential. Continued maintenance and clean-up are usually necessary.

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Published by:

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, MANHATTAN, KANSAS July 1989 Robert "Stan" McAdoo, Extension PRIDE Program Coordinator

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