We are getting ready for our HOA annual meeting, which will be at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center on Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s trash, it’s just trash,” says Beautify Carolina Forest President Betsy Fay about what volunteers fill garbage bags with each month.
There are more than 100 volunteers on the official roster, and while some of them are regulars, some help out only once in a while, and others have shown up only once or twice.
And, while the local group is always looking for more community-minded folks to help, right now it also needs donations.
This year, the group did not get the $2,500 South Carolina Palmetto Grant it got last year, nor did it get the $1,500 in Horry County Recreation Fund money it got in 2015 and 2016.
A $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart came in last year, and the group has applied for that again.
The group may still qualify for the recreation fund, but it’s asking for financial help from the community because even if it does qualify, more money will still be needed, Fay says.
Some projects, such as the planting of palms on the median between the SpringLake and Covington Lake subdivisions, will have to be put on hold until there’s money to spend on them.
The palms alone are about $400 each, and that’s for the less expensive of two kinds of palms.
What money there is will be spent to remove 30 dead, dying or diseased Indian Hawthorn bushes between U.S. 501 and Carolina Forest Elementary School.
“We will spend what money we have to pull them out and put in something that has a little better viability,” Fay says.
The bulk of the finances, apart from the grant and recreation fund money, comes from donations.
To help, visit the website, www.beautifycarolinaforest.org, or mail donations to Beautify Carolina Forest PO Box 50411 Myrtle Beach SC 29579.
Donors will be given a sticker that says Proud Supporter of Beautify Carolina Forest that Fay suggests could be put in a car or business window.
The all-volunteer nonprofit Beautify Carolina Forest group covers about 20 miles in The Forest. They have volunteers assigned to Carolina Forest Boulevard, River Oaks Drive, Postal Way, Gardner Lacy Road, the frontage area, International Drive and in Berkshire Forest.
Fay says there are volunteers who pick up litter when they’re out and about going for a walk on unscheduled pick-up days, too.
John Wills, who lives in Covington Lake, and will be 79 years old on his next birthday, says, “I volunteer because Betsy [Fay] accosted me and said she needed volunteers.”
When he told her that in the winter he likes to watch England’s Premier Soccer League on TV on Saturdays, Fay told him he could join her on her route on Fridays.
“That’s how she got me into it,” he laughs, adding, “Fortunately I’m still in pretty good shape, so it’s not too bad.”
Picking up trash and taking care of the landscaping matters, Faye says, “Because this is our home.
“We’re going to have bike paths and walking paths on Carolina Forest Boulevard, and if we take care of the area and keep it clean, it will be a nice walk…a nice bike ride…a nice place to live. This is our community.”
Sometimes, when a driver damages the landscaping, insurance claims provide a small stipend that’s given to Cricket’s Landscaping, which Fay says has been a tremendous help to Beatify Carolina Forest.
Professional help is needed, she says, because the majority of volunteers are in their 60s and physically unable to do some of the heavy lifting.
Volunteers pick up litter the second full weekend of each month. New volunteers who haven’t been assigned a route should meet at the recreation center at 8 a.m. that Saturday.
They’ll be given an area, a vest, a picker, gloves and bags. The two focuses of Beautify Carolina Forest – litter clean-up and landscaping – are equally important, Fay says.
If the area can get and stay litter-free and attractively landscaped, it might encourage folks to take more pride in The Forest.
She says research shows the worst culprits when it comes to litter are males between 18 and 34 years old.
Unsecured trash flying out of the back of pick-up trucks, and cars now being made without ashtrays add to the litter problems.
“If you know a bag of trash flew out of your truck, how can you not go back and pick it up?” Fay asks.
The group doesn’t pick up cigarette butts because there are just too many, she says, but they do pick up “anything shiny.”
Their goal is to rid the medians and roadways of metal, plastic, paper, cardboard, and when they show up, car parts and tires.
An Horry County litter control program that uses golf carts to pick up litter on U.S. 501 and S.C. 31 has helped somewhat, and has reduced Beautify Carolina Forest’s trash bag count from 125 to 93.
“That helps,” Fay says, but adds, “We still need more volunteers and more donations.”