September 14, 2007

Cleanup campaign looks to expand effort

by Eric Welch


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Local teenagers and college students will soon be able to organize recycling projects, plant flowers along sidewalks and pick up trash from roads and ditches with a little help from the Beautify Southern Illinois Campaign.

The cleanup and environmental organization started by Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and other area leaders wants to expand its vision to area community colleges and schools. With the assistance of the Southern Illinois Community Foundation, the organization has established the Beautify Southern Illinois Fund, which will award grants, as funds are available, to educational institutions that sponsor beautification projects throughout the region.

"It will give a mechanism so that people can give money to support these beautification organizations in schools and community colleges," said Paul Restivo, chairman of the Beautify Southern Illinois Campaign.

Restivo, who is also the director of SIUC's Center for Environmental Health and Safety, said the campaign is trying to give schools the knowledge and resources to form their own volunteer organizations and will also support existing student-led organizations. He said the objective is to have multiple groups with the same goal of beautifying their communities and the region.

The Southern Illinois Community Foundation, a local not-for-profit charitable public foundation that receives, holds and distributes funds for charitable giving to enhance the region, will manage the fund, simplifying the donation and distribution process. All contributions to the fund are tax deductible.

"People can donate whatever they want. We would like to pool donations so we can at least give $200 to each supported project," Restivo said. "If a company, civic group, or individual donates money and they're from Jackson County, they can mark that they want it to support a Jackson County project and then we can know who to give the grant to."

SIUC's student group, Beautify Southern Illinois Student Alliance, will head the effort to start the volunteer groups in area schools and community colleges. Restivo said that the student alliance has taken a similar leadership role in the past.

"Last year, some of the SIUC Plant & Soil Science students went into the Murphysboro middle school and talked to them about a project to do landscaping at the chamber of commerce building and a little plot at a park out by the river," Restivo said. "They helped those eighth graders decide what and how to build."

He said that the SIUC students also mentored Carbondale Middle School students. The student alliance will do similar work now, but on a larger scale of aiding and enabling schools to form their own beautification groups and supporting existing student organizations.

"I want to see the SIUC students as the leaders," Restivo said.

To give to the Beautify Southern Illinois Fund, make donations payable to Southern Illinois Community Foundation: Beautify Southern Illinois Fund, 201 W. DeYoung St., Marion, IL, 62959. Please specify if donation may be used to support any approved project or if the donor wishes to support a project in a specific county.

To make donations to the SIUC Beautify Southern Illinois Student Alliance, mail checks to the SIUC Center for Environmental Health and Safety, Mail Code 6898, 1325 Radio Drive, Carbondale, IL, 62901.