BENSON — After a brief hiatus because of COVID, Brighten the Path organizers are back in action, seeking volunteers for a citywide cleanup project in Benson.

Slated for April 16 — the Saturday before Easter — volunteers pick up trash throughout Benson so the community looks pristine for Easter gatherings, said Elton Bowman, who co-organized the first citywide cleanup campaign in 2018 with his partner, Pam Masters.

“People get up for Sunrise Services on Easter Sunday and are excited to see that the town is immaculate,” Bowman said. “The first time we did this, we received a wonderful response from the community. People were amazed by the difference.”

Through Brighten the Path’s volunteers, litter and discarded junk in Benson streets, alleys and open areas are eliminated, Bowman said.

“We clean up eyesores all over the community,” he added. “This is something we can’t do without help, so we’re turning to couples, individuals, civic organizations, businesses, scouts and other youth groups and anyone interested in participating with us as we work at making Benson clean and attractive.”

Bowman and Masters organize two citywide Brighten the Path cleanup projects every year, one in the spring and the second in October.

The couple are residents of Butterfield RV Park where they live with their Shih Tzu dog, Chewy, whom Masters says was the impetus behind the cleanup. While taking Chewy out on daily walks, Masters said she was appalled by the amount of litter and trash strewn throughout the area.

“Garbage was literally everywhere, so I started taking bags with me and picking it up,” she said. “Even though I was doing this nearly every time I went out, it was far more trash than I could pick up on my walks.”

Wanting to make a difference for the community, Masters and Bowman decided to organize an all-volunteer cleanup effort targeting some of Benson’s more heavily littered areas.

“When we started this, we weren’t sure what to expect,” Masters said. “It got great support from the community, including Benson city hall, so we decided to continue collecting trash to keep the city looking good.”

Past and future cleanups

The city of Benson provides volunteers with water, gloves, grabbers, safety vests and trash bags. The city also puts the cleanup projects on its Facebook page.

Volunteers with pickup trucks and trailers hauled trash, tires, debris, tree trimmings and brush to the transfer station, and the city paid the fees, Bowman said.

“During our last pickup, we hauled six trailer loads to the transfer station with 1,300 pounds of trash,” he added.

Volunteers start the day by gathering at Lions Park at 8 a.m. for an organizational meeting where they are assigned a street, alley or area to clean up, based on a grid created by Bowman.

Because of the success of the annual citywide trash collections, two smaller projects in “Adopt a Spot” and “Walk & Talk” are being organized by Masters and Bowman.

“We’re hoping the extra help in between the larger cleanup effort will keep the city looking clean and more attractive,” Bowman explained.

Adopt a Spot volunteers are invited to choose a specific place to clean up, much like Adopt a Highway.

“If there’s a particular area that needs attention, these volunteers arrange times in between the citywide event to keep that particular area maintained,” Bowman said. “Adopt a Spot is something fairly new, and something we’re really excited about promoting. If everyone would adopt one small area, I think the group effort would go a long way in keeping the town clean.”

Walk & Talk encourages residents to walk with a friend and pick up trash anytime, anywhere, Bowman said.

Both Bowman and Masters are willing to assist with all cleanup projects. Those wishing to Adopt a Spot, but would like assistance, can contact Bowman by texting or calling 520-686-3543.