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Members of OHIO, Athens communities brave the rain for Beautification Day (PHOTOS)

Hundreds of Ohio University and Athens community members didn’t let a little bit of rain stop them from volunteering to spruce up their collective home during the 11th annual Athens Beautification Day.

Held April 19, this year’s Athens Beautification Day was sponsored by OHIO’s Community Service Leadership Council, an on-campus student service organization that organizes weekly service projects for interested students and volunteers.

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Ohio University students line up along the West Portico of Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium to register for Athens Beautification Day and receive their assignments.

Athens Beautification Day commenced with a pep rally on the College Green, during which Athens and University leaders, including Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones, thanked the volunteers for taking time to give back to the community.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the city for your efforts on Beautification Day. I hope you stay dry,” Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said, noting the clouds in the sky that eventually gave way to rain. “I really appreciate this. This is what makes our city beautiful and you’re a part of it, and I’m glad you’re involved in it.”

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Ohio University Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl rally the hundreds of OHIO students and area residents who volunteered to participate in Athens Beautification Day.

Participants arrived on site prepared to show their commitment to this annual community service event – come rain or shine.

Following the pep rally, the volunteers were dispersed to their various projects, engaging in activities that ranged from picking up trash to planting flowers to removing graffiti. While most of the projects were located in and around the city of Athens, some volunteers were dispatched to areas as far away as the public libraries in nearby Chauncey and Albany.

Deemed a ‘zero waste’ initiative, special garbage bins were placed throughout the College Green to ensure that any and all trash was collected.

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Ohio University students volunteering for Athens Beautification Day take cover during one of the downpours that occurred throughout the day.

Ohio University groups contributing to this year’s Athens Beautification Day included many student organizations, Greek Life affiliates and sports teams – all of whom worked side-by-side with Athens-area residents.

Members of OHIO’s Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity have adopted the day of service as an annual event for the co-ed fraternity.

Johanna Ward, an OHIO senior and Kappa Kappa Psi member who has participated in Athens Beautification Day for two years, said her love for the campus is what drives her to keep it and the surrounding community clean.  

“I just love this campus so much that I want to keep it clean,” Ward said. “This event is a great way to give back to the community while also bonding as a group of people. We get to do a service not just for the band, but also for the University.”

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Ohio University student Olivia Miltner picks up trash outside of Walter Hall.

Brothers in Kappa Kappa Psi spent much of Athens Beautification Day cleaning up litter along the portion of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway that runs between the River Park apartment complex and OHIO’s Convocation Center.

“I did like it,” Bob Kilroy, a member of Kappa Kappa Psi and an OHIO sophomore, said about participating in the event. “I have a good eye for finding stuff in the grassy areas. I even found a handful of abandoned golf balls. The project benefited Athens by reducing the amount of litter lying around. It’s important that we keep the area looking nice and that we have the cleanest environment that we can possibly have.”

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Ohio University Ryan Weissinger, a member of OHIO’s chapter of Theta Chi, picks up cigarette butts and other trash from the area around Baker University Center.

Although the day’s weather was not ideal, Rose Troyer, vice president of Athens Beautification Day, deemed the day a success.

“We come into Athens as students and we make Athens our home and we treat it like our home. I think it’s important that we also give back to Athens as if it’s our home, too,” said Troyer. “Personally, this is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever been able to do.”

Athens Beautification Day ended with a meal provided by Kiser’s BBQ – a reward for a day of service well spent and an opportunity for more camaraderie between town and gown.

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Ohio University students Kate Hiller and Caroline Bartels remove trash along Richland Avenue.