We don’t know about you, but we had a pretty good 2013. There is still much to do to Keep Virginia Beautiful, and we continue to look to you for support, both in your acts and with your continued donations. Many of you across the Commonwealth helped to spread our message, committed your time to cleanup and beautification projects, and took tiny steps in your own back yards to make Virginia a more beautiful place to live, work, and play. Rest assured, all of those efforts combined for a great swell of good deeds.
So here’s how it panned out:
In January, we reminded you that 2013 was the 60th Anniversary of Keep Virginia Beautiful. We launched and revived a few programs to help everyone ring in our Diamond birthday. With the instruction that you can pick up a lot of litter in 60 seconds, plant quite a few flowers in 60 minutes, and $60 buys several recycling bins, we asked all of you to Give 60. You did, and continue to do so. We also brought back our Keep Virginia Beautiful Awards through our Get Caught in a Beautiful Act campaign. As you were out and about, many of you took photos and videos of your Acts, submitted them to us, and we shared them. That’ll live on in the years to come. We also invited you to the biggest party we’ve ever thrown, our Gala. We planned our 3rd annual Golf Tournament, and got ready for another year of 30 in 30 Grants. Plans were made to celebrate our birthday in high cotton for the entire year.
In February, we took a look at our Coastal waters. Virginia is brimming with streams, lakes, and rivers, and the stuff we put in these waters goes somewhere. We met some like-minded folks at the Virginia Marine Debris Summit to look at where this stuff was coming from and what we can do about it.
In March, we geared up for the Great American Cleanup, and learned how much impact each individual can make. Together, they become an army of environmental activists. Millions would get involved, thousands would host events, and hundreds of groups got organized.
To coincide with Earth Day, we opened nominations in April for our 30 in 30 Grants. This is a real signature initiative for us. Individuals, groups, businesses, and localities got to apply for a grant for a program that addressed one of our focus areas: Litter prevention, Recycling, or Beautification and Community Greening. The awards would go for things like community gardens, playground renovations, and outdoor classrooms. We would eventually announce one winner each day for 30 days.
In May our Executive Director talked about our history. He pointed out that our entire organization, and to a large extent Keep America Beautiful, is the result of the persistence of one ornery citizen who was tired of looking at trash.
Our first 30 in 30 winner got the news on June 1. Briar Woods High School in Ashburn asked for some seed money to plant some trees and native plants in an unused courtyard. The end result would be an outdoor classroom and inspirational reading and writing area. Over the course of the next 29 days, we awarded thousands for similar projects. Much of this money went to schools and educational initiatives. Since we began 30 in 30, we’ve awarded almost $70,000. Look for it to start up again in the Spring.
We love a cleverly crafted television ad, and in July shared a new spot from Keep America Beautiful. “I Want To Be Recycled” revealed the lonely life of a piece of litter that didn’t want to end up in a gutter or on a roadside. It yearned for a new start.
August, and the dog days of Summer, saw us doing a great deal of planning for our Gala.
September is when most of our children go back to school, and it was no different for us. Many of our conversations start with “Did you know” and it made us realize that we’re not street sweepers or thought leaders or activists. We’re educators.
October was all about celebrating and fun times. We hosted our Gala at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We ate, drank, auctioned, danced, and were merry with several hundred of our friends: YOU! We recognized some leaders, saw some amazing art, and in the end raised over $75,000 towards our programs, like putting recycling bins in our State Parks.
We got our hands dirty a bit in November. Ellwood Thompson’s is a grocer with stores in Richmond and Fredericksburg, and they agreed to let us bag groceries for the day. We got to meet many of you, and Ellwood’s donated almost $2,500 to help us out!
Just before Christmas, we announced our Beautiful Act winners. They cleaned up gardens, planted outdoor classrooms, and started an oyster bed, among other things. One winner, a little girl named Savannah, submitted a video asking what it would take for every school in Virginia to recycle. Good question, Savannah.
And so we prepare for our New Year and a successful 2014. We already have some plans and events in place. But how will we beat our 2013?