Development Board, teen group recognized for litter program

June 09, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC – Palmetto Pride, the state’s anti-litter campaign, has recognized a litter program of the Sumter Development Board for its work in keeping Live Oak Industrial Park clean. The organization named the joint program of the board and the South Sumter Teen Leadership Council as the Adopt a Highway County Group of the Year for 2012.

“We are grateful for your dedication to keeping your community clean and safe for all residents,” reads the awards letter from Palmetto Pride. “You know as well as we do that litter is more than an eyesore. The negative impacts of litter on our neighborhoods and environment can be detrimental to our quality of life.”

Freddie Gilbert, the Sumter County sheriff’s deputy who organizes the program, said the award shows the kids involved that they can make a big difference through small, positive actions.

“It’s very rewarding. It’s great when good work gets noticed,” Gilbert said. “But it’s also promising. It shows our young people that civic pride and community involvement does make a difference and does get rewarded. These kids have a great sense of accomplishment, and I think that’s important.”

Jay Schwedler, president of the Development Board, said the board had been fielding complaints about litter in the park for years.

“We’ve tried several things, even getting out there and cleaning the park up ourselves, but the partnership with the Teen Leadership Council is the first effort that’s really worked over the long term. Since we created this program, complaints about litter in the park have been virtually eliminated,” he said.

“We recognized this effort in 2010 at our annual meeting, and for the kids to receive statewide recognition is a testament to Freddie’s leadership and the kids’ efforts to make a difference. Sumter County appreciates what they do,” Schwedler said. 

The Teen leadership Council is comprised of about a dozen South Sumter youths from 10 to 18 years old. The group picks up litter in Sumter’s largest industrial park one Saturday each month. Gilbert said while the kinds in the program come from different circumstances, they all share a willingness to serve their community.

“These are good kids, and they want to be involved,” he said. “I’m glad they have the opportunity to make a difference for their community.”