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Treasured refuse

(ran PC edition of Pasco Times)

Picking up trash can be nasty, dirty work. So organizers of the Lutz Trash Bash have hidden gift certificates and coupons in the rubble to inspire volunteers to dig deeper and clean cleaner.

Garbage is not generally the center item of attraction at community gatherings, but it will be on Saturdayat the second annual Lutz Trash Bash.

Armed with big plastic trash bags, hundreds of citizens are expected to take to the streets to gather trash, beginning at the Old Lutz School House, 18819 U.S. 41.

"We'll be raring to go at oh-seven-hundred hours," said Hillsborough County Deputy Gordon Brown, one of the event organizers. "Everyone picks up their trash bags, a free T-shirt, doughnuts, coffee, orange juice, and then they're off to get the garbage."

What is unique about the Lutz cleanup is that the night before the event, volunteers will be out hiding specially marked containers amid the debris. Inside, participants will find certificates redeemable for cash (donated by Sun Trust Bank) and free food coupons from McDonald's.

On Trash Bash day, people will collect garbage, while keeping their eyes open for the containers. They may keep all the food coupons they find, said Brown, and can bring the money certificates _ with "proof of trash" _ back to the schoolhouse for immediate redemption. Filled trash bags will be left on the side of the road and picked up throughout the event by five big dump trucks that will scour the area.

Last year's event was a huge success, Brown said. "We had 315 people sign in, but we had even more," he said. "People just joined in _ brought their own trash bags and just got involved."

Close to 300 had signed up for this year's Trash Bash as of midweek, Brown said.

While the typical refuse turned in included cigarette butts, broken glass and pieces of cars, Brown said, volunteers also found a discarded couch, an old radar dish and even a glass eyeball.

Participants are as varied as the objects found.

"You'll see all kinds of people show up," Brown said. "Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, the Lutz/Land O'Lakes Woman's Club, the Lutz Civic Association _ everyone comes out."

Brown said the event will cover streets from County Line Road in the north to Bearss Avenue in the south, from Dale Mabry Highway on the west to Livingston Avenue on the east. At least 10 reserve deputies will help patrol the roads, in squad cars or on motorcyclesor bicycles, to help with traffic control and to protect participants.

The extra effort is well worth the anticipated results, Brown said.

"Seventy-five percent of the debris that enters our coastal areas, our oceans, our bays, our lakes, comes from the land through rain and drainage," he said. "So if we stop it right here, we're not only cleaning the unsightly debris right here, but we're also helping to keep our waterways clean."

There are immediate neighborhood benefits, too.

"It promotes community spirit, brings the community together for a common purpose, a common goal," Brown said. "When we did it last year, everyone felt great about it, and we even got our little community to look better."

_ For more information on the Lutz Trash Bash, call Brown at 247-0600.