Every year the City of Tampa has a NEAT (Neighborhood Environmental Action Team) cleanup in each neighborhood. All of the neighbors bring out all of the items they have not gotten rid of in the previous year, or perhaps maybe the results just from Spring Cleaning. The Parks Department brings mowers and weedeaters and cleans up the curbs and right of ways. The Solid Waste Department brings garbage trucks, front end loaders and dump trucks. Hopefully the neighborhood supplies residents who volunteer to ride and help load the garbage trucks. Community Service volunteers (is anyone on community service really a volunteer?) mostly help the Parks people pick up trash from curbs and roads, with a lucky few riding the garbage trucks with the residents. This weekend the NEAT Team comes to one part of Old Seminole Heights. SE Seminole Heights which is normally cleaned up in May for some reason this year will be cleaned up in August. "You can participate by putting out the night before all of that stuff you have not been able to get rid of all year long. You can help by helping load the stuff at your home into the garbage trucks and/or by offering water or snacks to the neighbors riding the garbage trucks You can also help by riding the garbage trucks (This is the most fun) or by working with the grounds crews. Our neighborhood usually has the highest number of volunteers in all of the NEAT clean up. (Actually we are one of the few neighborhoods to help out). We are also one of the first neighborhoods to participate in the program (even before it was called NEAT.)
As early as the week before people start putting items out on the curb. Some wait until Friday or early Saturday morning and a few sluggards only bring stuff out after the NEAT trucks have passed by once.
This accumulation of items brings a out the NEAT pickers the night before or even while the NEAT pick up occurs. Professional junkmen look for big ticket items such as stove, refrigerators and other metal items. Neighbors looking for that slightly used plastic turtle sandbox, or milk crates, or pavers, or a 1940's brass fire extinguisher or whatever. It is amazing what items people throw away that others are able to be reuse.
Prior to our neighborhood clean up I always send the following as an email out to our neighborhood email group to encourage participation.
One year Mayor Sandy Freedman rode on a truck
Last year we collected 192 tons of trash, the most ever. I am proud to have been part of a crew that collected 24 tons. Normally without volunteers, it takes 2 days for all of the trash to be picked up. We always get it done in one, saving the City a lot of Sunday overtime. For the neighbors who volunteer to ride the trucks and for garbage truck drivers and parks department people we will be having barbecue afterwards. How can it get any better than this? A ride on a garbage truck and free food afterwards. If this were Busch Gardens you would have to pay $49.95 for the experience and food."
"This is part of an article my wife, Susan, wrote for the neighborhood newsletter the first year we participated in NEAT.
"My husband, Scott and I participated in the N.E.A.T.clean-up for the first time this year. We moved here on May 30 of last year from Pasco County, and have witnessed first hand the need for this program. I know that NEAT is practised city wide, so when I mentioned to friends in South Tampa that we would be riding on a garbage truck and they responded with horror, I realized not EVERYONE else in the city actually HELPS to rid their neighborhood of trash! It made me proud of the people in our community. People who are willing to spend a Saturday getting sweaty and dirty loading everything imaginable onto garbage trucks.
We all met at Giddens Park early on May 19 and were dispersed three and four to a truck. Scott and I rode with Frank Roder (a NEAT veteran) and Stephanie Houser. They were energetic and enthusiastic, and I was glad to get to know them better. Our driver started us out slow and gentle, so after the first hour I loosened my death grip on the handle of the truck and began to relax. About that time the tempo seemed to pick up. I lost a glove trying to catch the truck as he took off from a stop. Branches repeatedly aimed for our heads and the corners were definitely going by faster! Scott and Stephanie were left at one stop while Frank yelled at the driver and I mashed on the "driver" button on my side of the truck. He finally reined in a block away and they climbed back aboard. Our driver was merciful though, when we pulled up to piles that looked like monuments. He called for the front end loader and we collectively sighed.
Riding through S.E. Seminole Heights on the back of this monstrous vehicle
wasn't a bad way to see the neighborhood, once I adjusted to the odor of freshly crushed trash. Stephanie added cheerful announcements to our finds such as, "First Toilet","First T.V.", "First Sofa", and so on. We lost track of how many T.V.'s we heaved, but Scott at the controls got great satisfaction out of smashing all of that glass and hardware! And we all waxed sentimental when facing the demise of some child's teddy bear or rocking horse. All in all it was a very worthwhile experience, ridding our community of all that trash.
I certainly developed a deeper appreciation for the many people who have volunteered in the past, and for our city's trash collectors who endure this everyday.""
"You can participate by putting out the night before all of that stuff you have not been able to get rid of all year long. You can help by helping load the stuff at your home into the garbage trucks and/or by offering water or snacks to the neighbors riding the garbage trucks You can also help by riding the garbage trucks (This is the most fun) or by working with the grounds crews. Our neighborhood usually has the highest number of volunteers in all of the NEAT clean up. (Actually we are one of the few neighborhoods to help out). We are also one of the first neighborhoods to participate in the program (even before it was called NEAT.)