You don’t often hear of anyone giving a valentine to the community that they call home. Why not? If you love your community, have a heart and show your appreciation by doing something for your hometown (maybe even when it is warmer). Loving your community and wanting to make it clean and attractive are critical to its future. In the words of Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

One relatively easy effort to show your community your love is to encourage leaders to support “Keep Iowa Beautiful Month” in April by passing a proclamation. This provides special support for building community pride. Maybe that support can be turned into a special project that improves the cleanliness and/or beauty of your town – one that might involve the residents and the youth.

How about a “green valentine?” Form a Green Runners group of walkers, joggers, families and friends, and schedule some fun runs (and walks). Pick up litter along the route and get a little exercise! At the end, celebrate the amount of litter and recyclables collected.

Form a citizen and volunteer committee to see if there is potential for murals to be developed around the town. Of course – start with one but also keep in mind the bigger picture (pardon the pun).

Work with school officials and teachers to consider utilizing the Teachers Going Green materials or start a school garden to get youngsters outdoors and learning how to produce food for the table. It doesn’t always need to come from the grocery store.

A couple other community ideas include:

  • Cleaning the signs around town with a little warm water and soap. Everyone could help, including the neighbors and school children. Block-by-block, it can make a difference.
  • Getting rid of the weeds in a vacant area would be of real value. Maybe it is a back-alley brigade of volunteers to clean up the litter and debris in selected alleys.

For more ideas, visit our Volunteer page and look through the list of potential projects that will put valentines on your town.

As the Executive Director of the organization, I also encourage you or your employer to become a sponsor of Keep Iowa Beautiful so that our work with communities may continue.

You get the idea – have a heart and give your community a “green valentine.”

By Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director