On Saturday June 15th, a combined 5 volunteers from the Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) and the Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) participated in The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Adopt-A-Highway program. It was a small but productive group of people – filling over 25 bags of trash over a 3 hour span! After the cleanup, the volunteers got together at a local pub to review their day, cool off, and relax with a pint or two.
HCCO has committed to adopt a two mile section of Interstate 270 on the north side of Columbus four times a year for a period of two years. This event marked the second cleanup of the year and third overall since rejoining the program in the fall of 2012. Volunteers from COUNT donated their time to assist with the project.
Our volunteers in the Adopt-A-Highway program are not paid to pick up litter. Instead, a sign is placed on the side of the highway near the clean up area noting that the area has been adopted by Humanist Community of Central Ohio – highlighting that non-believers can be good without God!
Each year, ODOT spends over $4 million on litter pickup. Volunteer groups, such as HCCO and COUNT, donate their time and energy to alleviate some of that cost which can then be used on other important things. ODOT estimates that the money spent on litter pickup could be used instead to install 323 culverts, pave 40 miles of a two-lane road, install 340 miles of guardrail, or purchase 28 snowplow trucks.
Matt Shannon, HCCO organizer of the event for HCCO said, "It really is amazing. Although we had small turn out this time, everyone that was there was happy to be there. Everyone worked hard and had a smile on their face throughout the day. I made some great new friends and strengthened some relationships just by volunteering. And the little bit that we did today will go a long way in showing that atheists and other non-believers do not need a higher power to dictate their morals and willingness to be good people."
[COUNT and HCCO are members of the Columbus Coalition of Reason (CoR). Mid Ohio Atheists, another Columbus CoR member, maintains a stretch of highway in the Mansfield area.]