Keep America Beautiful Continues Gulf Coast Greening Efforts with Great American Cleanup Event in Gulfport, Miss.

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Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup returns to the Gulf Coast for a park restoration initiative in Gulfport, Miss. The Gulfport clean-up, a continuation of Keep America Beautiful's Hurricane Katrina Restoration initiative launched last year in Biloxi, will help to bring hope and beauty back to the community through the restoration of significant public spaces. Volunteers will plant trees, remove debris, and revitalize several public spaces including a 12-acre park, a beach and a schoolyard.

Keep Mississippi Beautiful is dedicated to restoration efforts for communities in Mississippi that genuinely need the support

National nonprofit Keep America Beautiful® will return to the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, March 20, rallying volunteers to revitalize storm-ravaged West Side Park and the surrounding community during the Great American Cleanup™, the nation's largest community improvement program.

The Gulfport clean-up, a continuation of Keep America Beautiful's Hurricane Katrina Restoration initiative launched last year in Biloxi, will help to bring hope and beauty back to the community through the restoration of significant public spaces. The project is being conducted by Keep America Beautiful, Keep Mississippi Beautiful/PAL, City of Gulfport Dept. of Leisure Services and Keep Harrison County Beautiful. Volunteers will plant trees, remove debris, and revitalize several public spaces including a 12-acre park, a beach and a schoolyard.

"Natural beauty is a pivotal factor in building community pride, instilling hope, and restoring normalcy to areas stricken by blight or natural disaster," said G. Raymond Empson, president of Keep America Beautiful. "With the assistance of our state and local affiliates in Mississippi, and the assistance of our national sponsors, Great American Cleanup volunteers in Gulfport will do their part to help clean up and, ultimately, heal the region by creating valuable public green spaces."

The opening ceremony and press conference will feature Mississippi First Lady Marsha Barbour, among the dignitaries. Addressing the crowd will be Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr; and Keep America Beautiful President G. Raymond Empson; Federal Environmental Executive Edwin Pinero will represent the White House, and Waste Management, Inc., a national sponsor of the Great American Cleanup, will be presenting an award to Keep Harrison County Beautiful to further the organization's continuing restoration efforts. The donation is part of the nationwide Waste Management Community Improvement Grants program.

Hundreds of volunteers will participate in clean-up and beautification activities in the park and nearby West Elementary School. Phased activities will include removing storm debris, planting trees and flowers, constructing a new shoofly and pavilion, creating a walking trail, repairing planters and building park benches, and creating a reading garden for West Elementary students. Volunteers will plant native vegetation to redesign and develop new irrigation systems that will better withstand potential flooding or other damages incurred by natural disasters. Additionally, volunteers from the U.S. Naval Reserve Station and Keesler AFB will be cleaning the beach and pier area adjacent to the park.

The goal of the event is to make significant, visible progress in a single day, though the full West Side Park restoration, which will include water features, new walking paths, and other amenities, is not expected to be completed until June, 2007.

"Keep Mississippi Beautiful is dedicated to restoration efforts for communities in Mississippi that genuinely need the support," said Barbara Dorr, executive director of Keep Mississippi Beautiful/PAL. "Last year's efforts in Biloxi had a lasting effect on the lives of the volunteers and residents, and we're looking forward to making that same impact in Gulfport as we strive to beautify and restore the community."

Nationwide, this year's Great American Cleanup activities are expected to involve more than 2 million people, volunteering in 30,000 events that touch all 50 states. Activities will include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, removing graffiti, picking up litter and removing scrap tires, planting trees and flowers, remediation of illegal dump sites, and conducting educational programs and events.

The 2006 Great American Cleanup produced record-breaking results nationwide, with 2.2 million volunteers collecting 228 million pounds of litter and more than 2.5 million scrap tires; recycling over 37 million plastic (PET) bottles; removing 10,000 illegal dump sites; recycling 38.5 million pounds of aluminum and steel; planting more than 100,000 trees and removing litter and debris from more than 6,000 miles of rivers, lakes and shorelines.

Many of America's leading companies are dedicated to supporting and sponsoring the efforts for the 2007 Great American Cleanup and are providing in-kind donations and grants to aid in community improvement events. The national sponsors are: American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Firestone Complete Auto Care™ and Tires Plus™, GLAD ForceFlex® Trash Bags from The Glad Products Company, Pepsi-Cola Company, Sam's Club®, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Sparkle® Paper Towels from Georgia-Pacific, Sprint Foundation, Troy-Bilt®, Waste Management, Inc., and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Educational Partners: Rubber Manufacturers Association and The Wireless Alliance.

For the fifth consecutive year, President George W. Bush will serve as Honorary Chair of the Great American Cleanup. Mrs.Laura Bush will also be joining him for the third consecutive year as Honorary Chair.

About Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

Keep America Beautiful, Inc., established in 1953, is the nation's largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. This national nonprofit forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community's environment. The Great American Cleanup™ is the organization's signature program that mobilizes millions of volunteers to improve their communities through hands-on participation. For more information, visit http://www.kab.org.

Keep Mississippi Beautiful/PAL

Keep Mississippi Beautiful/PAL, a statewide affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, was established in 1988 and seeks to engage individuals, businesses and governments in improving the quality of life for all Mississippians. The primary goals of the program are to assist communities in establishing litter prevention and education programs, serve as a clearinghouse of information on ideas and projects, and to coordinate an awards program annually.

Keep Harrison County Beautiful

Keep Harrison County Beautiful is a public/private partnership consisting of 15 volunteers appointed by Mayors, Supervisors, and Chambers of Commerce. Grants, the public sector, and the County fund the Commission. Keep Harrison County Beautiful believes, through education and community involvement, that we will encourage a sense of pride and responsibility in all citizens, which will promote a cleaner and beautiful community.

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