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Hunker down and clean up

By Karen Colbenson

kcolbenson@postbulletin.com

A partnership between a local youth group and a tree-planting organization will reach all four corners of the city this weekend during an annual clean-up event.

Members of Spruce Up Austin and youth members from Cornerstone Assembly of God Church will collaborate Saturday for Earth Beat 2008. About 100 people are expected to participate in the event, which will be one of the largest cleanup projects done to date in the city.

Volunteers will work from morning until night cleaning up the city’s highways, parking lots and walking paths. From east to west and north to south, all areas of the city will be covered. According to youth minister Corey Goetz, volunteers will clean up the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, Austin High School, Wescott Field, East Side Lake, the Mill Pond, pedestrian paths and vacant lots.

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The Spruce Up team will prune, weed and spread mulch around every tree in every park. Drain tiles also will be installed around the base of the trees to protect them from lawn mower damage.

Goetz said Earth Beat, which began in 2000, serves many important purposes. It serves the city, promotes community service and creates environmentally conscience students.

"When you come out and work an eight-hour day on Earthbeat, you will never throw trash out of your car window ever again," said Goetz. "It is crazy how much trash we pick up."

The event also is the largest fundraiser for the youth group at Cornerstone. In exchange for their services, students ask for pledges and cooperate sponsorship.

"It’s the big community service project for us, but we use it as our primary fundraiser as well," he said.

Earth Beat helps the youth group raise about $5,000 each year, which helps fund youth retreats and trips to the Minnesota Youth Convention.

"It beats selling candy bars," said Goetz. "That works, too, but we wanted to do something that would be a benefit to all."

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