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AIN’T IT GRAND?! Keep Manatee Beautiful tops 100,000 pounds collected in 2023!

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (October, 2023) – Keep Manatee Beautiful leaders and volunteers have shattered the community’s annual total for trash collection. With a handful of events this month and one to go this weekend, Keep Manatee Beautiful’s efforts have topped 100,000 pounds for the first time ever.

KMB’s volunteer teams had collected 88,000 pounds of trash and debris since October, 2022 heading into the Sept. 15 Reef and Beach cleanup, co-hosted by Suncoast Aqua Adventures. That event, the 7th Annual Reef and Beach Cleanup, attracted 400 volunteers who collected 25,770 pounds of trash and debris at Terra Ceia.

That event, along with the typical monthly events KMB sponsors each September, have brought the organization’s totals to an incredible 121,805 pounds during 2023, shattering last year’s record total of 69,000-plus pounds collected.

“It’s been an incredible year with so much enthusiasm and drive from our volu

nteers and ‘adopt-a’ groups,” says KMB Executive Director Jennifer Hoffman. “I’m so grateful to everyone who was a part of this accomplishment. It shows how much people in this community care about our parks, our streets and our neighborhoods.”

Keep Manatee Beautiful recognized its volunteers and the record-breaking year during an evening celebration on Sept. 18 at Palma Sola Botanical Park. During the event, Hoffman paid special thanks to a handful of incredible volunteers who received President’s Volunteer Service Awards. Awards went to the following:

Gold Medal Honors (500+ hours over the past year)

Jim and Linda Watkins, a retired couple who clean neighborhood streets daily from their golf cart. The couple logged 650 hours in 2023!

LDee Collins and Sam Hershfield lead the Bradenton Riverwalkers and have dedicated their retirement to cleaning up to five miles during 3-4 cleanups a week in downtown Bradenton and Village of the Arts for years. The duo completed 600 volunteer hours in 2023.

Joann Spencer has been a dedicated member of the Keep Manatee Beautiful board for years. She has represented KMB in Washington Park where she volunteered an incredible 520 hours in 2023.

Silver Medal Honors (250+ hours over the past year)

Cheryl Huntsinger is a Keep Manatee Beautiful board member and chairman of the board for Suncoast Aqua Adventures. She led multiple cleanups during the past year, and helped bring many volunteers into the fold.

Bronze Medal Honors (100 - 249 hours over the past year)

Jim Costa is a retired firefighter who’s taken a lead role in cleaning Bowlee’s Creek near his neighborhood. Each week he helps clear culverts and he has helped organize KMB’s First Saturday events in the area.

Mike Meehan logged more than 100 hours over the past year and has received the bronze level President’s Volunteer award for the fourth consecutive year.


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