COLUMBIA — Anyone driving past Smithton Middle School early Saturday morning would have seen little except for a woman and a 12-year-old girl with raincoats and bright green trash bags.
Becca Stock and Lucia del Valle-Inclan took part in the 16th annual Cleanup Columbia event on behalf of the Smithton Middle School Builders Club. Lucia, 12, was the only member of the Builders Club who made it to the event.
"You have a lot of doughnuts to eat," Stock said, referring to the half-dozen she brought to feed the team. "I hope you didn't have breakfast!"
This was Stock's fourth year participating in Cleanup Columbia, but she said the Builder's Club participates every year. Stock is one of the club's two faculty sponsors.
"Typically, we have 10-15 kids signed up, but this year we only had four," Stock said.
The inclement weather most likely kept the three absent volunteers at home. The event was scheduled to take place come rain or shine, but the early-morning showers postponed the start time for some sites, according to program assistant Lisa Rohmiller. However, nearly 200 people were in attendance for the post-cleanup picnic at Twin Lakes Recreation Area.
"We are glad to see people who care about Columbia come out despite the weather," Rohmiller said. "We're happy to see people unafraid to get wet."
The picnic, sponsored by APAC-Missouri and catered by Family Barbecue in Jefferson City, served to thank volunteers for their time and effort, Rohmiller said.During the meal, Simon Rose of KBXR and Emily Spain of KOMU read a list of the day's most interesting finds, which included a rubber duckie — an appropriate find after such wet weather.
Rohmiller spoke of all the work involved in planning the event, from coordinating sponsors to assigning teams to different areas around the city. The end result is worth it, she said.
"My favorite part is just seeing how many kids come out, hopefully forming a lifetime habit," she said.
Stock and Lucia had positive things to say about the event, despite the weather.
"I still enjoyed being outside," Stock said. "I had good company, and we talked a lot."
The volunteers collected 255 bags of trash during a cumulative 555 hours of service, according to a news release. Each team was given a response card on which they were asked to record the number of trash bags they filled and the hours worked. The information could also be submitted online. These numbers are not final, however, because some volunteer teams decided to reschedule their cleanup because of the weather, Rohmiller said.
Mayor Bob McDavid also attended the picnic to personally thank the volunteers.
"We have the healthiest urban stream in Missouri," McDavid said, "and it's because of people like you."