Endowment can help put litter in its place

An editorial from The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Many of us who live in the Eastern Panhandle have grown numb to the staggering amount of trash littering our roadsides.

But we’ve also heard time and time again that the garbage piled up alongside so many of our local roads is an embarrassment. We can’t deny the negative impression left on visitors to our area by the seemingly never-ending wave of fast-food wrappers, plastic bags, soda bottles and more.

Berkeley Community Pride, founded by former Berkeley County commissioner Bill Stubblefield, does its best to promote recycling and litter control. The volunteer group has had some success, but there’s only so much it can do.

“It’s discouraging when three weeks after they’ve picked up trash, it’s dirty again,” Hospice’s Maria Lorensen, a supporter of the cause, told us recently. “You need consistency to make a difference.”

Now, Stubblefield has enacted a plan to secure that consistency.

He and his wife, Bonnie, recently donated half a million dollars to establish an endowed fund with the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation designed specifically to combat the roadside litter problem. Berkeley Community Pride will be entrusted with managing the program.

Community foundation funds must sit untouched for five years to accrue interest before they can begin to be used.

The Stubblefields’ ultimate goal is to have a $1 million endowment, from which $50,000 a year could be devoted to reducing litter. Grants would be provided to nonprofit groups committed to cleaning up trash once a month for seven months. In order to get to that level in the next five years, the couple is hoping for other members of the community who are concerned about roadside trash to donate to the fund as well.

While it will take some time to get this new program up and rolling, it is our hope that it will have a major impact on our roadside image. We’d like to think that could effect change in people’s overall states of mind – and maybe, just maybe, get them to think twice before tossing the wrapper out the window.

This is an outstanding opportunity for us to band together against litter. We encourage any residents who care about our outward appearance to get involved however they can.

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