Bears PAY It Forward to Their Neighbors

UNC students

UNC students Jessica Stone, left, and Jodi Sylvester fill a garbage bag during the Sept. 17 clean-up of areas in Greeley's University District neighborhood.

Photo and video by Nico Goda

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UNC students turned out in force Sept. 17 to help clean and green areas surrounding campus.

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University of Northern Colorado students and staff joined local residents and community organizations on Sept. 17 to clean up neglected areas of the University District neighborhoods surrounding campus.

PAY (Parks, Alleys and Yards) It Forward was organized to beautify parts of the district prior to UNC's homecoming. The district is an initiative focused on strengthening the sense of place and identity in the area around the university and is led by the city of Greeley and UNC.

More than 120 UNC students, approximately 50 community members and several university staff members spent three hours in what organizers said was the largest-ever turnout by students for a community service activity.

While one group cleaned up Glenmere Park, others descended upon alleys and yards, picking up trash, pulling weeds, removing tall grass and stuffing all of it into huge orange garbage bags.

Afterward, the volunteers gathered at UNC's Garden Theatre for lunch, music and prize drawings while they chatted with new friends.

According to Ria Vigil, assistant director of student activities for UNC, there's still work to be done.

"The alleys in particular were really a mess," Vigil said. "The district is by no means completely clean, but it was a great start. We'll definitely do it again."

By the Numbers
Vigil said that with upwards of 170 volunteers spread out over a several blocks, it was difficult to keep tabs on everything.

  • Trash bags filled: approximately 200
  • Alleys cleaned: At least eight, probably more
  • Parks cleaned: one; Glenmere
  • Yards cleaned: three
  • Types of trash removed: tires, couches and other broken furniture, fallen tree limbs