South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Last week's clean ups bring back bag-a-thon memories


April 29, 2008

As the plan for the Arlington Civic Council's participation in the city-wide clean up progressed I found myself revisiting my memories of the many Glad Bag-a-Thons we participated in all those years ago.

Armed with 300 plus volunteers we began preparing for the spring clean up earlier every year. We did poster contests with the schools, girl and boy scout troops, recruited everyone from 2 to 100. Everyone looked forward to the clean up day.

We would await the Clean Cities trucks that came to remove our debris that was bagged, boxed and sometimes was too large to do anything with except drag it to one of the designated site. Carcasses of cars and metal contraptions became a competition. Groups of volunteers would compare finds as if they were buried treasure.

Our neighborhoods were cleaner, healthier and more vibrant. What happened? Everyone did not move away. Did they just lose their sense of community?

I know there is always hope and I ask that anyone that reads this that believes our neighborhoods still possess enough of their old enthusiasm and passion to hold on to our identity step forward.

Every piece of trash you pick up. Every crime, violation or problem you report. Every positive comment you make about the neighborhood will help rebuild our former and future glory.

And to Bill Harlak and the guys that still go out there everyday to make a difference, we have not forgotten you. You exist in the photo albums and archives of our past as well as the countless lots you continue to clean day after day, month after month and year after year.

Michele Balcer



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