By Woodard, Dale on June 25, 2020.
For Stephanie Hamer, it all started with a paddle around the lake at Nicholas Sheran Park about a month ago.
Immediately, she knew she would need to spruce things up.
Now, the 32-year-old Lethbridge resident who has fibromyalgia and has been unable to work has been putting in the hours at the westside park on garbage pickup duty, an initiative she began on her own to not only keep the park clean, but to help the wildlife that call the park home.
On a sunny Wednesday, Hamer was back at work bright and early at 9 a.m., unloading her garbage-picking gear from her truck and heading straight to the waterfront in search of trash.
“I just decided to do this because I can’t work and I wanted to do something nice,” said Hamer. “I’ve noticed a lot of plastic bags and that really bothered me with the ducks and the birds.”
An inflatable kayak trek last month kickstarted Hamer’s objective.
“The first time I took it out, unfortunately I noticed a lot of garbage everywhere,” she said. “So the next time I made a rig on it and I set up two baskets on a pole and I went around and collected as much as I could in the water. So I’ve done about 20 hours now and that is 20 full baskets. I also walk around the edge and pick up what I can.”
Hamer noted a few other park users who also do some garbage pickup, but that hasn’t stopped other litterbugs.
“There are two other people who occasionally walk around and pick up, but it’s clear people toss their coffee cups in,” she said. “I get so many coffee lids, little baggies and even dog bags.”
However, Hamer’s efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. What’s better, a few more park users have followed her lead.
“About five or six people have said ‘thanks’ and they really appreciate people cleaning up,” she said. “There are some occasional people who are already picking up.”
Hamer’s focus remains on Nicholas Sheran Park, but she hasn’t ruled out taking her cleanup initiatives to other parks around Lethbridge.
“I think I will try somewhere else,” she said. “I don’t want to say I’ve totally cleaned up this lake because that’s not true, but 20 baskets of garbage is a lot of garbage to be out of there. So I think I would like to try somewhere else.”
In the meantime, Hamer’s philosophy for keeping a clean park is straight-forward.
“It’s so simple to hold onto something and throw it away properly rather than ruin another animal’s habitat.”
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