Great American Cleanup targets WINNEBAGO

Time for makeover after messy winter

Now that the snow of a long winter has melted, Winnebago County could use a makeover.

This Saturday, approximately 1,500 volunteers throughout the county will join Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, Habitat for Humanity and Transform Rockford in the Great American Cleanup Day. This national effort aims to remove litter from miles of roadways.

Frank Manzullo, the litter program coordinator at Keep Illinois Beautiful, said this is the organization’s 26th year participating in the Great American Cleanup. 

“We work with many different groups here,” he said, adding that they have collaborated with Habitat for Humanity in the past, but this is the first year Transform Rockford has participated.

Transform Rockford is a community organization that has developed a process to solve the biggest problems facing the Rockford area.

That process began with Community Visioning Sessions, where members of the community shared what factors they believed would make an ideal Rockford. Transform Rockford has since moved into its Vision Drafting step, where the feedback from the Community Visioning Sessions will be taken into consideration to make one complete vision for a better Rockford.

Mike Schablaske, executive director of Transform Rockford, said community involvement is one of the most important parts of the organization’s mission. 

“Part of the transformation process and our shared values is building community,” Schablaske said in an email. “The better we know one another and other organizations, the easier it will be to work together.This partnering provides a way for good people to do something for the community now while we are building big plans and get to know folks associated with two local organizations at work now in the community through Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and Habitat for Humanity.”

Although Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful has created many programs, including everything from running two recycle centers from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday to hosting clothing drives, the Great American Cleanup tends to draw the most attention.

“It’s the biggest event we have of the year,” Manzullo said.

The mission at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful is “to improve our environment through education, public awareness and community involvement.” The private, non-profit organization has programs that aim to maintain a cleaner, healthier community through the abatement of litter, the preservation of resources and the safe management of waste.

Those interested in volunteering can view a list of locations and register in advance for free by visiting Volunteers who register with the Transform Rockford group at will meet at Wayne’s Feed Store, 3435 Auburn St., and receive a free T-shirt.


–Jessica Cabe