Volunteers still needed for ‘Make Kilgore Shine’ (KNH, Nov. 2, 2013)

Kilgore Improvement and Beautification Association is still seeking volunteers for next weekend’s ‘Make Kilgore Shine’ citywide clean-up.

Organizations and individuals who want to help straighten up local streets in time for the holidays can volunteer as late as the 8 a.m. kick-off that Saturday morning. All participants will receive a free shirt commemorating the event – the deadline to pre-order 2013 shirts has passed, but prior years’ shirts will be available or the helpers can put their names in for a new order.

“People can volunteer up to the day of the event, there just won’t be any guarantee of the shirts – I’ll have some extras and also some from last year, they’ll just be a different color,” said Gene Keenon, Allied Waste’s manager of municipal and government affairs and KIBA president. He’ll order more 2013 shirts if the need arises.

Set from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 9 (or Nov. 16 in case of rainout), KIBA’s annual four-hour clean-up calls on local volunteers to spruce up select streets in Kilgore; last year, Make Kilgore Shine drew 270 volunteers picking up trash on about 60 streets.

“The main thrust of the event is that we want to make Kilgore litter-free and aesthetically attractive for our hometown folks that come back to Kilgore once or twice a year,” Keenon explained, “mainly for the holiday festivities that we have downtown: there’s the lighting of the derricks, there’s also the holiday events all through the Christmas holidays.

“We just would like to make sure that when they come in they will notice that it’s a beautiful city.”

The event is honor of the late Debbie Phillips, who joined Keenon in spearheading the beautification initiative until her death in June 2011.

“Debbie and I worked on this every year together. Debbie was in charge of it, actually coined the name ‘Make Kilgore Shine.’ We have kept that and probably will for a very long time. I know that she’s smiling on us every year of the event, making sure that we’re continuing it on.”

Each year the event draws a wide range of participants, from student and church groups to local officials, sports teams, scouts and civic organizations.

Eight groups have signed up so far, Keenon noted, and one individual has also asked for an assignment that Saturday – volunteers are invited to pick their preferred street for a clean-up and are encouraged to bring their own gloves.

Solo volunteers, families and others can join groups or strike out on their own after they pick up their trash bags from KIBA’s hub at the pavilion in City Park; Allied Waste trucks will pick up full trash bags from the various routes after the event.

“The sponsors have all been set and I’m getting calls from volunteers every day,” Keenon said, and more are certainly welcome – to sign-up, call 903-986- 5318, or show up Saturday, ready to clean.

By James Draper, Kilgore News Herald