Monday, 05 April 2021 20:18

Place of Grace volunteers clean up in East Rockingham

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Volunteers from Place of Grace Campus clean up the yard of a nearby home on School Street in East Rockingham on Monday afternoon. Volunteers from Place of Grace Campus clean up the yard of a nearby home on School Street in East Rockingham on Monday afternoon. Courtesy: Place of Grace Campus

EAST ROCKINGHAM — Volunteers from Place of Grace Campus spent part of Monday afternoon cleaning up the neighborhood.

Pastor Gary Richardson went live on Facebook showing volunteers cleaning up on Airport Road in front of Family Dollar, adding that they were working their way down Entwistle 3rd Street; and another crew cleaning up a vacant lot on School Street near the church and homeless shelter.

Richardson said in the video that the cleanup was part of the Place of Grace’s community work that they plan to do every Monday and Tuesday — “doing our part to make our community be a better place to live.”

“This is something Place of Grace Campus has committed to doing in our community,” Richardson said while driving from one activity site to the next.

“I hate that people throw trash out, but they do,” the pastor said. “I found out complaining about it, well it makes you feel better but it doesn’t get the trash up.”

Richardson said PoGC is putting cleaning crews together to spend about three hours a day, two days a week to help make things look better.

Pastor Alex Perakis, who was helping clean up at the vacant home, said they had seen several news articles and comments where people were complaining about trash.

The county levies fines for those caught littering and there is a bill in the General Assembly to double fines for litterbugs.

However, Perakis said fines might keep people from throwing out more, but they don’t clean things up.

“We’re a church in action,” Perakis said. “We house people, we feed people, we have church, and we clean up our community … it’s not our mess, but it’s just the right thing to do.”

In the video Richardson issued a challenge to all churches in Richmond County to clean up around their areas a few times a month.

Roadside trash has been an issue in Richmond County for years.

County Manager Bryan Land includes pick-up and citation statistics in his monthly report to the board, often referring to the problem as an epidemic.

According to Land, 622 bags and 16 tires were picked up from 20 roads by county staff and state workers in February, accounting for 6.6 tons of trash.

Roadside trash isn’t exclusive to Richmond County — it's an issue across the Tar Heel State.

Earlier on Monday, the N.C. Department of Transportation reported that more than 3 million pounds of trash have been collected along state roads this year. That’s roughly 500 tons per month.

Last month, NCDOT announced the Swat-A-Litterbug app that “will allow users to easily report when someone sees trash being thrown from a vehicle.”

“The owner of the vehicle will receive a formal notification from the N.C. State Highway Patrol informing them about the littering offense, as well as the penalties for littering, and a note urging them to help keep North Carolina clean,” a press release reads.

Country singer Luke Combs also recorded a public service announcement to encourage people from littering.

“We are from one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we need to do our part to help keep it that way,” Combs says in the PSA.

In March, 15 students from Richmond Early College High School’s Eco Club picked up five bags of trash on Wiregrass Road. The previous month, employees of von Drehle filled a small pickup truck three times with garbage along a half-mile stretch near the plant.

Richardson also encouraged all those watching to participate in the county-sponsored Earth Day clean-up event scheduled for April 24.

According to the county’s website, 465 people have signed up for the event and nearly $5,000 has been raised through sponsorships to purchase supplies.

For things that can’t be taken to the dump, the county is hosting a hazardous waste collection site April 10 in the parking lot of the Human Services Complex on Caroline Street.

To volunteer with PoGC’s cleanup efforts or other community projects, fill out a form at