ELYRIA — Discarded cardboard boxes piled up in front of a “no dumping” sign.
Hypodermic needles lying on the sidewalks and in parking lots.
Grocery bags, wrappers, and other debris blowing through downtown streets and neighborhoods.
This isn’t happening in some far away metropolis. These are the sights people see when driving or walking through Elyria right now.
And it has to stop, according to a group of young volunteers.
Tiffany Mills and Philip Boschetti Jr., both students at Lorain County Community College, have plans to turn Elyria around.
The pair started Untrash Elyria, a volunteer group dedicated to cleaning up the city. Starting yesterday, volunteers plan to take to the streets each Saturday armed with trash bags and good intentions. Every week, a new area of the city will be targeted.
“By the end of summer, we want people to be able to walk down the street and not see garbage everywhere,” Boschetti said.
Boschetti, a 2012 Elyria High School graduate, has really noticed a decline in his city over the years.
“The community used to be a lot more together,” he said. “I don’t want to just watch it come back. I want my hands in there helping it to be what it can be.”
This isn’t the first, or only, group in recent years to want to improve the aesthetics of the city. Last year, another LCCC student called for volunteers to help clean up Cascade Park and didn’t stop there. She kept up the efforts throughout the warm weather months.
Invest Elyria, another grassroots effort, was busy this weekend working on a cleanup at the Friendship Animal Protective League’s building and surrounding parks.
But even more needs to be done, Mills and Boschetti said.
They asked Facebook friends on their Untrash Elyria page for suggestions on what areas needed cleaned up. After compiling a list, they picked one suggestion from a hat and got started cleaning up the Lake Avenue area this weekend.
Next week, they will choose a new location.
“We live in Elyria by the downtown, and there is so much trash along West River, Lake Avenue — everywhere really,” Mills, 19, said. “It seemed like no one really wanted to do anything about it. We want to do it for the community. We want to make Elyria a better place.”
Anyone can volunteer. Just check the Untrash Elyria Facebook page for the next location and show up. Volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves and trash bags.
Mills and Boschetti also are asking for donations of items to continue their efforts. In addition to gloves and trash bags, they are looking for rain barrels that can be painted and placed around town to be used as trash cans.
Anyone interested in making a donation can leave a message on the Untrash Elyria Facebook page.
“This is really about helping the community,” Mills said. “Elyria has the potential to become more than what it is at the moment.”
Boschetti hopes their effort grows.
“I’d like to get the entire city behind us,” he said.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.