Something about summer always makes me feel nostalgic for those summer breaks I had during school and helps me feel that there are a ton of possibilities out there. Every summer when I was in school, I would spend at least some time volunteering.

What I did usually changed each year. I might be volunteering at a preschool, picking up litter or become a reading mentor. I thought that my parents incorporated volunteering just to keep me busy, but I learned many lessons over the years through that time that I've always kept such as the importance of hard, consistent work, the usefulness of a kind spirit and the power I have to make a difference for the world. Those same lessons are imparted on anyone that chooses to join in on the Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful programs this summer.

Sometimes volunteering can be difficult to work in to our routines because we all have hectic lives. That's why a program like Adopt-A-Mile is so useful in finding time to volunteer. There are a lot of benefits to the program especially during summertime. Because Adopt-A-Mile is volunteer led, you have the option of picking up whenever you want. Whether that's 4 in the morning for the early birds or 9 in the evening for night owls. And you don’t have to miss out on anything just because you go on a summer vacation because you can just schedule it for a different time.

You also have the power to choose where you pick up. You can start as close as the street you live or pick up around your favorite business. All you need to do to start is choose the location you would like and submit an application at where you will receive an email with approval once the area is deemed safe. Then, you schedule your supply pickup from the recycling center and you are free to tackle the area however you like. There are editable flyers you can print and hand out on your street for a neighborhood cleanup and if you complete four cleanups within the first year you can get road signs with your or your organization's name to recognize your hard work.

If you are cleaning up with children or just can't commit to a full mile you can look at the connected smaller program, Adopt-A-Spot. The process is similar, but the area does not have to be as big making it great if you have physical limitations or will be picking up litter with a quickly-bored 6-year-old. To sign up for a spot and request materials, you can visit

Picking up litter was one of the summer volunteer opportunities I enjoyed most growing up. As an introvert, I often went to areas alone and enjoyed getting to hear the birds chirp and having a quiet time to think. Though I have seen a good share of extroverts who love picking up litter when they do it as a get together with friends, especially if there's a meal involved after!

The other reason that picking up litter was one of my favorite activities is how visible the change was. While there is so much enjoyment to be had in volunteering to help people directly, it can be hard to quantify that change. When you pick up litter though, there is no way to not see the change both in the place you've cleaned up and in the bags of trash you collected. One of the great things about Adopt-A-Spot and Adopt-A-Mile is that once people report their cleanup numbers, they are all added together so you can see not just what you picked up by yourself but the thousands of pounds of litter removed from the community by the community that you are a part of.

If you haven’t joined in on one of the programs before, try it out this summer and see if you too find it to be one of your favorite volunteer options.

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or at

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