Close to 600 volunteers will begin their Saturday by cleaning up other people's messes.

Close to 600 volunteers will begin their Saturday by cleaning up other people's messes.

The eighth annual KickButt Columbus is slated for 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 19 at 144 highway ramps throughout Columbus.

Those who haven't registered can arrive at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Westgate Park Shelter House, 455 S. Westgate Ave., where they will be given gloves, bright-colored shirts, litter-grabbers, bags and buckets. They then will be directed to a cleanup site.

Sherri Palmer, manager of Keep Columbus Beautiful, which organizes the event, said it's a neverending issue throughout the city: People toss their cigarette butts and other forms of litter on the side of the road.

To date, an estimated 642,637 butts have been removed. End to end, that would stretch 10 miles, she said.

"Not only did we pick up cigarette litter, but we pick up all sorts of trash and debris and separate it into recyclables," Palmer said.

The messes have included things such as plastic containers, water bottles, bags of food, clothing and car parts, she said.

"We're picking up everything," she said. "It's amazing. You wonder 'How did all of these things get there?' "

Last year, Keep Columbus Beautiful's activities, including KickButt Columbus, removed 403,000 pounds of debris. Nearly 9,000 volunteers logged in 27,241 hours valued at $614,300.

Pat Lynch, landscape designer for Peabody Landscape, is credited with helping launch KickButt Columbus.

Back then, the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, of which Lynch was a part, was looking for a community service project.

"It became a marriage between private contractors and the city," Lynch said. "We brought in civic associations, young-professional associations and everyone we thought would help out."

The amount if illegally discarded waste is exasperating, Lynch said.

"Am I surprised? No," he said. "Am I appalled? Yes."

But the work will continue, he said, because beautification sends a message: "If it looks nice now, let's keep it looking nice. Let's not trash something looking good."

Palmer agreed cleanup efforts are encouraging.

"For one thing, it's an impact that volunteers are making on their own time for this city," she said.

"And, this event is so special because a lot of the same people come back year after year," Palmer said.

"People are very dedicated. It's a fun event, but there's a sense of satisfaction after what they've done on these ramps."

For more information, call 614-645-2421.