Mass beautification

Students at Owens Christian Academy learned to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs last year of part of their Clean Cities Sweep project. Here, Germaine Jenkins examines plants with LaTalah Proyr, Kayden Hart, Morgan Scott, and Kristen Milton and other students.

For more than a decade, Keep North Charleston Beautiful has helped transform the landscape of North Charleston through its hands-on beautification events and programs.

An award-winning affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the organization has sparked a blossoming revival. With the help of more than 22,000 volunteers annually, Keep North Charleston Beautiful enhances the community’s parks, schools, neighborhoods and roadways.

The largest initiative, Clean Cities Sweep, is held each March and April. Clean Cities Sweep is a joint effort between Keep North Charleston Beautiful and its sister organization, Keep Charleston Beautiful, as part of the national Great American Cleanup campaign.

Keep North Charleston Beautiful uses funding from the Palmetto Pride grant and business sponsors to help local groups buy the supplies needed for beautification projects of their choice. Past projects have ranged from planting sustainable vegetable and herb gardens to building flowerbeds and birdhouses. This year, there are 32 projects slated and 21 schools have signed up to participate in Clean Cities Sweep April 12–18.

“Our focus is mainly on beautification and education, rather than solely on litter pickup,” said Carmen Hanlon, director of Keep North Charleston Beautiful. “By educating future generations about the importance of taking care of their environments, we’re able to make a more long-term impact.”

To ensure that the city of North Charleston remains an enjoyable place for both residents and visitors alike, the organization also has ongoing programs, including its butterfly garden and flowerscapes. Located in the center of Park Circle, the but

terfly garden is home to more than 75 different butterfly-attracting plants.

“We’re able to use the butterfly garden as an educational tool,” Hanlon said. “By offering interactive tours through the use of our smartphone app, visitors can easily identify and learn more about the various plants.”

The gardens, flowerscapes and parks require year-round maintenance that would not be possible without the help of volunteers and business sponsors. Those who are interested in helping out can pick up a bloom kit from the organization’s Park Circle office. Bloom kits consist of a five-gallon bucket with all the supplies needed to weed a flowerscape garden.

“We want anyone who wants to, and is able to volunteer, to have the opportunity to volunteer,” said Hanlon. “Volunteer opportunities are not just limited to gardening. We also need help with administrative tasks in the office.”

For more information on Keep North Charleston Beautiful, Clean Cities Sweep and volunteer opportunities, call 843-745-1073 or visit keepnorthcharlestonbeautiful.org.