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Volunteer duo cleaning up Cottonwood Shores streets, and you can help

Volunteers pick up trash on Cottonwood Shores streets

Cottonwood Shores residents Debbie Hollway (left) and Wendy Wayson epitomize civic pride. Every Thursday morning, they spend about three hours picking up trash. The two are inviting others to join them. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Just about every Thursday morning, Cottonwood Shores residents leaving their homes to start their busy days might see a couple of their neighbors walking along the streets picking up trash. 

Debbie Holloway and Wendy Wayson do it because they simply love their city.  

“It’s a sweet town,” Wayson said. “It’s more like a neighborhood than a city. I really love this town.”

“It has a very rich history of volunteers, too,” Holloway said. 

They have hit every residential street except for two behind the old police station. 

Holloway and Wayson just started out wanting some exercise, but as they strolled the streets, litter caught their attention and the walks turned into a cleanup effort in February.

Anyone can join them Thursday mornings. They meet between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. or “when the sun’s up” on Lakeview Drive. When the weather heats up, they’ll start earlier.

The two women plan to join the city Parks Committee’s Adopt-A-Street program 

Parks Committee Chairwoman Andrea Stephens said the first day of the program is May 15. Residents are encouraged to “adopt a street” and help keep it litter-free.

“We have 17 streets to be adopted,” she said. “I think it will have a big impact in Cottonwood Shores.”

Residents interested in participating in the program can call City Hall at 830-693-3830. 

As a child, Wayson saw a public service announcement from Keep America Beautiful and was greatly affected by it.  

“I hate litter,” she said. “I always hated it. That commercial so affected me, it stuck with me. I’d pick up trash when people are too busy.”

While Holloway agreed with Wayson’s reasons for picking up trash, she had some of her own. 

She recalled watching what was happening in other cities and how residents were ruining what made those places unique. 

“2020 was such a crazy year,” Holloway said. “It was so horrible. What can the little person do? What can the average person do? The average person can vote, we can support local businesses and buy USA. What can you do for your community? (Picking up trash) was a need the community had, and we could fulfill it.”

Picking up trash is just another way the two try to help their city. They also pull weeds at public buildings and have decorated the old police station during the holidays. 

“It makes people happy,” Wayson said. “People might not think it’s important. It’s the tiny things, like parks being kept up, that bring the young people.”

“You do not have to have money to have a clean environment,” Holloway said. “You can pick up after yourself.”

City leaders have tried to honor Wayson for her volunteer work, but she has declined the recognition. However, she does have one request.

“What I want is help, someone to help me,” she said. 

She and Holloway would gladly welcome a few more hands every Thursday morning.