Judy Hoffman grits her teeth all the way into town. It’s the trash – the litter – that she despises.
“It has been a pet peeve of mine for years,” she said.
As a member of the Clayton Newcomers and Neighbors Club, Hoffman is leading a local effort in the annual Spring Litter Sweep, a community pickup campaign that runs through May 10.
The event, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Transportation, encourages volunteer groups, Adopt-A-Highway teams, DOT employees and individuals to collect trash along roadsides during the two-week period.
The Clayton Newcomers and Neighbors Club has taken part in the sweep for seven years, increasing its collection totals from 80 bags to 116 bags during that stretch. The club is among several area groups that join in the sweep, and Hoffman said the sweep could always use more volunteers.
“If you see trash on your own property, pick it up,” Hoffman said. “If everybody who saw that went out and picked up one bag of trash, it would really help.”
Since the spring sweep started April 26, Hoffman and her fellow volunteers, working on the north side of town, have filled 99 bags with trash and collected assorted tires, a broken toilet, an office chair and a set of keys. The 21 volunteers have now turned their attention to the east side of Clayton.
On April 26, six Clayton High School students and their teacher, Lauren Ramsey, collected 17 bags of trash near the Sam’s Branch Greenway. A day later, seven members of the newly formed Good Samaritan United Church of Christ in Clayton collected 16 more bags on Covered Bridge Road, Hoffman said.
Rod Deihl, 84, and his wife, Sally, 79, join in the sweep each spring. This year. they helped collect 38 bags of trash near Riverwood Athletic Club. Deihl said he and his wife travel a lot, and picking up trash is “just his part” in what should be a year-round, conscious effort.
Anyone can organize a litter sweep group, which typically selects a specific road to clean on a particular date and time. For more information, local groups can contact the DOT maintenance office in Johnston County at 919-934-6176.
After organizing, groups can pick up trash bags, gloves and reflective vests at the DOT maintenance office, which is located at 2861 U.S. 70 West near Wilson’s Mills.
Groups should leave tied bags on the side of the road, several yards from the pavement. DOT maintenance crews will spend one week collecting the bags once the groups have completed the cleanup, according to the department’s website.
Hoffman said her group mostly finds fast food containers, liquor bottles and beer cans along the roadsides. Last year, however, the group found a full set of dental molds, which won the Keep N.C. Beautiful and PepsiCo Unusual Litter Contest, which hands out prize money for the strangest items found each year.
Most of the trash Hoffman sees is on roads leading into Clayton. She said that’s where volunteer groups can do the most damage.
For information on the Spring Litter Sweep, go to www.ncdot.gov.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104