Volunteers clean up Blue River during Make a Difference Day | SummitDaily.com

Volunteers clean up Blue River during Make a Difference Day

Patty Palermo picks up trash on the side of the Blue River near the corner of Colorado Highway 9 and Valley Brook Street in Breckenridge on Saturday, Aug. 29.
Photo by Libby Stanford / estanford@summitdaily.com

BRECKENRIDGE — Rainy weather didn’t stop community members from venturing out to the Blue River on Saturday, Aug. 29, for Summit County’s annual Make a Difference Day.

Saturday marked the third year in a row for the event, which brings volunteers together to help clean up the community. This year’s theme was water and to honor that theme, teams of volunteers helped clean up the areas around the Blue River in Summit County and another waterway near Fairplay. 

Miranda Fisher, the general manager of Always Mountain Time, said the event surpassed previous years’ participation with 175 volunteers who signed up. 

“The last three years have just been awesome and they keep growing,” she said. “We had about 120 volunteers last year so up to 175 feels really good.” 

Always Mountain Time brought the Blue River Watershed Group into the event this year to help focus on the river clean up. Tim West, one the nonprofit’s board members and owner of Breckenridge Outfitters, said the event was a great way to raise awareness for the Blue River. 

“We felt there was a need there and we felt there was an opportunity,” he said. “So it fell hand in hand to partner with Make a Difference Day and promote this as a community.”

As with any event in 2020, this year looked a little different than past Make a Difference Days. In order to ensure social distancing and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, volunteers were required to wear masks and asked to stay spread out from each other. 

In years past, event organizers would also offer breakfast at check-in and a lunch party at the end of the day. Both of those aspects of the event were canceled this year to prevent people from gathering unnecessarily, Fisher said. 

“This year we decided the most important part of what we’re doing is the volunteerism,” she said. “We might as well do that and stay really safe.”

County Commissioner candidate and volunteer Bruce Butler said he felt grateful to be able to participate in a community event like this during the pandemic. 

“People want to feel like they’re engaged, they want to be useful,” he said. “They want to be outside doing something that’s positive. So I’m glad to see people all across the county doing this.” 

West said the group had been planning this event for a year and when the coronavirus hit, the board had to re-envision the event. 

Michelle Eddy cleans up trash with the help of her dog, Athena, at the Blue River in Breckenridge on Saturday, Aug. 29.
Photo by Libby Stanford / estanford@summitdaily.com

“It’s been challenging,” he said. “We wanted to make this a big community event and have a picnic-style thing at the end and a big get together. Obviously, with the times that’s not going to happen, but it’s great to see the support of people that are just basically doing it to take care of the rivershed and clean up their communities.”

Patty Palermo, who volunteered at the event, said she wanted to help clean the river because she’s always noticing trash and debris on her walks with her dog. 

“When I walk my dog, he’s always eating every little piece of trash off the ground and it’s very frustrating,” she said. “So I figured it would be nice to clean this up.”

Palermo said it was a perfect event for the pandemic. 

“We’re all spread out so you don’t feel that there’s any risk or anything,” she said. “It’s the perfect event for this.”

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