After two years of COVID-related postponements and on-line registration, Innisfil’s Annual Pitch-In Day was finally back in full force on Saturday.
Once again, residents could stop by their local fire halls to sign in and pick up their Pitch-In Day kits, containing garbage bags, flags and gloves, then come together to celebrate their efforts at a Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue at Centennial Park.
Chair of the Pitch-in Day Committee, Coun. Ken Fowler was at Station 1 in Alcona by 8:30 a.m., to hand out kits, safety information, water and freezies to residents volunteering for the Pitch-In anti-littering effort.
The Town prepared 500 kits and, said Kim Creamer, assistant clerk, long-time committee member and event organizer, “Over 300 people have signed up online.”
Creamer, manning the tables at Fire Station 3 in Stroud, noted that the Pitch-In effort is more than a single day.
“We have all the schools on board, and they’ve been busy all week,” she said - picking up trash in their own schoolyards and surrounding areas, and piling up the bright yellow garbage bags for collection by Town staff.
Other residents now regularly patrol their own roads, picking up the litter left by thoughtless passers-by.
Among the volunteers who came on Saturday were high school students looking for volunteer hours, residents demonstrating pride in their community, and Home Depot’s Team Depot volunteers, who arrived in force to pick up trash along roadsides and ditches.
For many, it was a family effort, like the Fairbarn family who picked up their kits at Lefroy Fire Station 2. “We’ve just done it for years,” said dad, noting that his daughters are huge Earth Rangers fans and were excited to be doing something positive for the environment.
Also picking up multiple kits at the Lefroy station was Terry Asselstine, who regularly rolls up her sleeves to clean up along Lines 4 and 5 in Innisfil. Her family has signed up with the County of Simcoe’s Adopt a Highway program and can be seen from time to time picking up trash along County Road 4 (Yonge Street) between Lines 4 and 6.
In every corner of the town, volunteers were out, collecting litter – from fast food, containers to empty beer bottles - and piling up the yellow bags for later collection.
Afterwards, they came out to the pavilion at Centennial Park, where the Innisfil Rotary Club and other volunteers put together an appreciation lunch of hot dogs, pizza, donated treats, and ‘swag’ donated by local businesses, from t-shirts to bubble wands.
“It’s been two years in the making. We’re finally here,” said Fowler at the barbecue. “Everyone is doing their little bit, which is making a great difference in our town.”
In addition to the lunch and presentation of awards, there were free hikes along the restored nature trail at Centennial Park, a free Family Storytime with the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library, and the opportunity to get together in person, to share experiences and pet peeves.
Ward 4 Coun. Alex Waters picked up trash along County Road 25, between Lines 8 and 9. “It was a great day for us, and the ditches were mostly dry,” said Waters, whose team filled “three large garbage bags. Plastic bottles like this were the most things we picked up.”
Marie Martin was out with her three grandchildren, who also filled three bags along Belle Aire Beach Road.
The kids picked up flower pots, discarded coffee cups, beer bottles, “and lots of broken glass – right where the little turtles are,” said one young volunteer. A neighbour was so impressed with their efforts that he gave each child $5, as a thank-you for caring about the community.
Grandmother Marie shook her head. “I don’t know why people can’t take their garbage home,” she said.