My way of giving back to the community: Picking up!

Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

December 1, 2015 | by Annette Forer

I have always enjoyed walking for exercise. I enjoy walking around the city pathways, walking to and from work, hitting nature trails out in our national parks and walking to do small tasks such as banking or picking up a few items at the grocery store. I walk come rain, shine, snow or cold. You just have to dress properly for whatever weather you are going to encounter!

When I landed my first "real" job 25 years ago as a junior high school teacher, I walked or rode my bike to work as much as possible. Along the way, I always noticed a lot of litter so I started picking up items and throwing them in the trash. I made it a goal to pick up six items each time I was out. Well, that quickly changed to 10 items as there always seemed to be so much garbage around the city.

For years, I picked up 10 items each trip. That all started to change when I began to organize Pitch In days with my students. For 10 years, while at that particular school, classes of students would go out in the spring and pick up litter. We made a huge difference in keeping our community clean. I also found that students really started to recognize that if something landed on the ground it didn't look so good. From this simple task I always hoped that the result would be a generation of citizens who thought twice about littering. But, I also changed my outlook. Instead of picking up 10 items, I just picked up stuff, no matter the count.

Twenty five years later, I am still out walking. And I'm still picking up litter. I pick up items as I go, wherever I go, and put them in the trash. It's my way of "giving back" to the community when I don't always find time to volunteer. I really don't care who sees me doing this. It's a matter of keeping the community clean. Along the way I also pick up cans and bottles and for every bottle I pick up, 10 more cents is donated to cancer research. Every year I pick up about $200 worth of cans and bottles, all of the money going to research this horrible disease which took my mother away from me just this past summer. I like to think that she approves of this little hobby of mine, weird and wonderful as it is!

I'll walk until I can't any longer, but hopefully there are a lot of good years of walking left and a lot of trash going where it is supposed to in the meantime!

Annette Forer

About the Author

Annette Forer Annette is an outreach high school teacher in Airdrie, Alberta.

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