The COVID-19 pandemic forced every Keep America Beautiful affiliate to take a look at their program and reevaluate how they could continue to make a difference in their communities while being mindful of the safety factors that come with managing a volunteer program in the middle of a pandemic. In California, Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful (KRCB) decided to take action early on and prepare for the return of volunteer activities by sanitizing supplies and brainstorming different ideas for a soft reopen.
KRCB developed the Love Your Neighborhood program, which allowed families to borrow supplies, walk around their neighborhoods, collect litter, clean debris from storm drains, and eradicate graffiti tags on street signs. The goal of this program was to make everything as easy as possible for the volunteers and allowed them to do neighborhood cleanups on a day and time that was convenient for the family. Once they completed the cleanups, families returned their supplies and report form to the KRCB office. In the third month of the program alone, more than 200 volunteers had committed 436 hours, hosted 60 cleanups, and collected 3,740 pounds of litter.
After a couple of months of doing a household-only format, the City of Riverside approved a second phase of the program where groups (eight or less) could be from different households as long as they continued to wear gloves and masks and maintained a distance of 6 feet from the other people in their group. Prior to COVID-19, the main focus for KRCB was always the critical sites in Riverside that had a lot of litter. Now, all areas of this community are getting the attention they deserve.
Originally meant to just be a summer campaign for families living under the same roof, the success of Love Your Neighborhood has led KRCB to adopt it as an ongoing program for all volunteer groups as it provides an avenue for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to give back to their community.
Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful received a 2020 Keep America Beautiful Innovation Award for its Love Your Neighborhood program.