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Teens join to make community better

COAL GROVE — With her River Sweep T-shirt tied on with rubber bands in the back, 2-year-old Kyleigh Brown dragged a plastic bag almost as long as she was tall as she helped her grandmother pick up green Sprite cans at the Coal Grove Boat Ramp.

Whether she understood it or not, Kyleigh was part of a six-state cleanup on Saturday geared to bringing beauty back to Mother Nature.

The Ohio River Sweep, in its 24th year, is an event where volunteers spend about three hours on the same Saturday in June picking up trash along the banks of the Ohio.

Cleaning up the boat ramp were members of the Ironton Moose Teen Club whose chairperson is Kyleigh’s grandmother, Stacey Patterson. But spending a Saturday like this wasn’t new. Patterson has the teens out at the boat ramp every month cleaning up litter others have left behind.

“We want to get the teens involved with our community,” Patterson said. “Nowadays, kids, teens are the entitlement generation. A lot of kids expect everything to be handed to them. My kids are not. They work for everything.”

The teen club at the Moose Lodge started about 10 years ago and is open to youth ages 13 to 20. When a member turns 21, he or she is eligible to join the lodge and become an adviser to the youth group.

Joining about a dozen members of the club at the boat ramp were its president, Nick Hill, and vice president, Nate Rogers.

“This is a nice thing to do,” Hill said. “It’s to help out your community. You don’t want the world to be filled with trash. This could be a really good spot, if people would stop throwing trash.”

As he spoke, a yellow motor oil container, more green Sprite bottles and a couple of empty plastic milk jugs bounced among the driftwood at the end of the launch. Typically the teens would clean to the river’s edge, but with high water they stayed around the parking lot.

In another two weeks when the river is down, they will be back to clean, Patterson said.

“This is kind of fun and it is helping (the younger) kids be good people by mentoring them,” Rogers said.

The boat ramp was one of four sites in Lawrence County that were part of the local river sweep effort that was organized by the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, including the Ironton ramp.

But besides making a section of Lawrence County more attractive for others to enjoy, Patterson has another reason for having the teens come out monthly to clean up the boat ramp.

“I want to teach them a life lesson,” she said. “You have to work for everything you get.”