More than 10 years ago Patty Daniel was picking up trash along a highway near Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma when someone stopped their car to tell her about a group of locals who were also concerned about cleaning up the area.
That chance meeting eventually lead to the creation of Team Up to Clean Up, a group of volunteers dedicated to encourage respect for the Lake Eufaula environment.
“A group of individuals who care, who want to make things better, want to change mindsets,” said Daniel, now the Team Up to Clean Up chair.
Team Up to Clean Up was at Lake Eufaula March 25th during their bi-annual cleanup just below the dam, a cleanup the group has been doing for the past 10 years. A team of about 20 volunteers, including several local children, scoured the shore of the Canadian River just below the dam picking up cans, bottles, fishing line and other bits of trash left behind.
“We appreciate all the people that came out to help Team Up to Clean Up,” said Cathi Carr, a ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Eufaula. Carr added it was nice to see the children learning not to litter by seeing the effect littering had on the environment.
“We’re just trying to make sure that the future generations take care of the areas they fish and swim in and drink from,” Carr said.
After two hours of cleanup the crew was served a hotdog lunch by the Eufaula Chamber of Commerce. Daniel said quite a bit had changed since they had begun cleaning trash from the shores below the dam.
“I think the first year we were here almost five hours and we weren’t still done,” she said. “So I think that people are realizing they see us picking up and it kind of changes that mindset that I can just leave this here.”
Pam Rossi, Eufaula Chamber Representative with the organization said the volunteers appreciate the lake and all it has to offer.
“Part of the beauty of Eufaula is that we have these wonderful parks,” Rossi said, “so it’s important that we do leave it cleaner than we found it.”