Now in its 26th year, the cleanup has helped removed thousands of tons of trash from Delaware and Pennsylvania's roads and streams

It’s an annual rite of spring for many area residents, and from one man’s perspective, a shot of springtime is sorely needed.

“Gosh knows spring is supposed to be right around the corner, but I do think a reminder is necessary,” said Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Association director Jim Jordan about the upcoming 26th annual cleanup on March 29.

This year, hundreds of volunteers from two states will cover over 70 miles of stream and roads in Delaware and Pennsylvania, with a large portion covering Yorklyn, Centerville, Hockessin and Ashalnd.

“Basically from the Pennsylvania line through to the Kirkwood Highway, and portions of Route 52,” Jordan said.

Over the past quarter century, thousands of volunteers have removed thousands of tons of trash from Delaware and Pennsylvania’s roads and streams, including the over 700 who turned out last year to collect another 13 tons.

Jordan said that while the sheer tonnage remains roughly the same in recent years, the organization also continues to expand the cleanup into different areas each year.

“We are definitely seeing less and less of the big items,” he said. “We used to find old car engines and freezers and lots of tires, but it’s mostly now what I call ‘window trash.’”

All the detritus collected on the Delaware side goes to the Delaware Solid Waste Authority’s Cherry Island landfill, the cost of which Jordan said is being offset this year by State Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, who is a personal sponsor of this year’s event.

He’s also supplying dollars through the Community Cleanup Initiative, a state program that helps fund events just like the RCVA’s annual cleanup.

For his part, Lavelle said the cleanup was a great community effort that he is happy to help with however he can. 

“I was so impressed with the number of volunteers – from large groups to a few family members – who come out and make such a positive impact,” Lavelle said. “The logistics and work that goes into the cleanup are very impressive.” 

Jordan said that while the cleanup helps promote a better habitat for wildlife and people while keeping garbage out of the watershed, it also serves as an educational tool to help keep new trash from showing up.

“We get a lot of students and young people in general who show up, and I think if you spend four or five hours picking up trash, you’re less likely to toss something out your own car window one day,” Jordan said. “It also gives us cleaner natural areas, and we all benefit from that.”

Volunteers are still needed for the 26th annual RCVA cleanup on Saturday, March 29, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The event is co-sponsored by the Red Clay Valley Association and the Delaware Nature Society, with additional support from the Kennett Area Park Authority, United Water Delaware, Wild Birds Unlimited, WSFS, Delaware State Senator Greg Lavelle and others.

Delaware volunteers assemble at the Ashland Nature Center at 8 a.m.

Large groups are encouraged to contact RCVA (610-793-1090) or DNS (302-239-2334) to register prior to March 29.