A new group in downtown Havre de Grace is working to beautify the city, one bag of litter at a time.
The C.A.T. Club—whose acronym stands for “Citizens Against Trash”—meets at 8 a.m. every Saturday at Rochambeau Plaza to pick up trash for approximately one hour.
All are welcome to participate, says Al Peteraf, who organized the group at the end of 2012. Its first outing was Jan. 5.
Peteraf said his surroundings gave him the idea for the C.A.T. Club.
“I come up Washington Street every day and there’s all kinds of trash out here,” said Peteraf, who works at RE/MAX.
In two weeks, the C.A.T. Club has cleaned up a good portion of downtown Havre de Grace, he told Patch. The first weekend, the C.A.T. Club tackled Washington Street and Pennington Avenue. The next week, it picked up Saint John and Franklin streets.
“There’s a lot of litter," Peteraf said, "and I hope more people take interest in it.”
The first week, nine people turned out, according to Peteraf. The second week, seven people showed up.
“It’s surprisingly fun," he said. "We tell stories and jokes and clean up along the way."
The group has a mascot, which is a cartoon cat picking up trash. Local Melissa Horton drew it, Peteraf said.
“Most people think when they hear the name “C.A.T. Club,” [that] we’re into pets…but the idea really was just to make it fun and hopefully get the attention of kids” as well as adults, Peteraf said.
The organization is reaching out to schools, scouts and churches through word of mouth to see if they are interested in earning community service hours and improving Havre de Grace.
“We are going to have a C.A.T. Cub session every Saturday morning until somebody says that’s enough,” Peteraf said. “I think you have to start small and keep plugging away, and if it’s worth anything, it will grow. It’s a real chance to teach civic lessons long-term and curb the tide of litter."
Continued Peteraf: “It is very important to address litter. When people care enough not to throw a piece of trash on the ground, they will also care enough to do another act of goodwill.”
On Jan. 19, the C.A.T. Club will meet at 8 a.m. at Rochambeau Plaza to clean up Otsego Street from Craig Park to the McDonald’s.
Tools and gloves are available but people are also welcome to bring their own, Peteraf said.
He said the group decided democratically where to clean up and is open to suggestions.
“Maybe there’s an abandoned lot that hasn’t seen any attention. Bring it to the C.A.T. Club,” Peteraf said. “In fact, invite a group to tackle a special project with us and we’ll take care of it.”
He said the group will continue each Saturday indefinitely, untile there is no need for it.
“I encourage all the citizens of Havre de Grace to volunteer at least one day a year to C.A.T. Club,” Peteraf said. “Show that you care about your community and encourage people to come downtown.”