A small group of volunteers gathered under a large oak tree in the historic Waverly neighborhood early Saturday morning.
The group, made up mostly of sleepy-eyed youth from the neighborhood, munched on doughnuts as adults sipped coffee and talked about what they were going to do that day.
They had gathered to participate in their community's cleanup and beautification project, and all seemed eager just to be outdoors after a rain-filled week.
The Waverly project was one of several neighborhood cleanup efforts on Saturday as part of the kickoff for the Midlands Pride Week Blitz.
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The weeklong effort, which continues through next Saturday, , is expected to have 20 to 25 clubs and groups participate in cleanup projects, according to the host organizations, PalmettoPride and Keep the Midlands Beautiful.
Nine-year-old Nygia Klines and 12-year-old Tzima Reese picked up trash during the Waverly cleanup. The girls, who live in the neighborhood, enjoyed being part of the effort.
"I like volunteering," Klines said as she donned a bright orange vest. "I want to help the Earth."
The girls were recruited by the project's coordinator, Jocelyn Jennings, who knocked on neighborhood doors.
Jennings, who is also the beautification chairwoman for the Historic Waverly Anniversary Commemoration Committee, said volunteers would target the gateways to the community.
"But outside recognition isn't nearly as important to us as what those who live here think," said Jennings. "We think it's good for the residents. It helps to build community pride."
Across town, Sarah Robinson of PalmettoPride was busy at Richland County's annual recycling day, where the organization was leading the blitz kickoff.
Held in the grassy fields that make up the Clemson Sandhill Research and Education Center in Northeast Richland, the event felt more like an outdoor music festival than a recycling effort.
Vendor booths and carnival tents rose up from the expansive field facing Clemson Road as a long line of cars snaked down a narrow two-lane dirt path. Drivers waited patiently to unload all manner of items - from mattresses and tires to electronics - at various drop-off points.
Robinson said even though recycling is not part of PalmettoPride's mission, it made sense for the organization to be at the event, now in its third year.
"The whole idea is to use our time and resources to expand our volunteer base," she said from behind a table stacked with literature and giveaways.
"It's hard sometimes for local organizations to keep it going. But events like this help raise awareness and keep people motivated."
Lacey Fuhr agreed.
Fuhr, who dropped off a stereo, car radio, VCR, answering machine and computer at Saturday's event, said her reason for coming out was partly driven by a desire to "get rid of it all."
"But there were the environmental considerations as well," said Fuhr, who holds a master's degree in earth and environmental resources management from USC.
"The landfills are just getting too full too fast," she said before driving away.