Gahanna residents can help keep the city litter-free and be more aware of sustainability efforts, thanks to a grant awarded to a local nonprofit.

Make Gahanna Yours, a resident-driven, volunteer-based committee, is one of 66 nonprofit organizations, local governments and businesses across the state to receive funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency through its 2019 Recycle Ohio Grant Program.

The Ohio EPA on May 21 said it would award more than $4 million this year to establish and implement recycling, litter prevention, recycling market development and scrap-tire recycling programs.

Make Gahanna Yours will receive $65,000 for its Cleaner Greener initiative to help raise community awareness about the impact of littering, the importance of recycling, the elimination of single-use plastic items and the preservation of Gahanna's natural resources, according to a news release from Make Gahanna Yours.

"Make Gahanna Yours' mission is simple: To do what we can to make Gahanna a better place for all," said Becky Kneeland, president of the group. "This all-volunteer committee was formed to promote civic pride and beautification initiatives because we care about our community and its neighborhoods, and we love living here."

She said the funding would help continue efforts to keep Gahanna clean and promote awareness of the negative impact of litter.

Renee Mallett, who wrote the grant application, said the goal is to initiate and implement a continually evolving, sustainable culture change for a Cleaner Greener Gahanna, by deploying several strategies.

Mallett, the group's litter-prevention chairwoman, said one way that will be accomplished will be the placement of wire environmental-art sculptures in the shapes of a fish, a cardinal, a tree, a butterfly and a bee throughout the city for litter disposal.

The grant application also notes the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District mascot is a lion, and two wire lion-sculpture trash cans will be provided to the school district.

These sculptured trash cans will initiate, stimulate and continue the conversations of environmental stewardship and preservation, according to the application.

The creation of a "Wrap It Up" utility-box art program will focus on deterring littering, graffiti and vandalism, Mallett wrote in the application.

Juried artwork designed in partnership with the Gahanna Lincoln High School Fab Lab will be converted into a vinyl wrap and installed on selected utility boxes throughout the city.

Make Gahanna Yours also will have a booth at community events, including Independence Day, the Gahanna Flea Market, Creepside and Holiday Lights, to provide education on litter prevention.

Additionally, community cleanup events are scheduled for Sept. 21 and April 27, 2020, using the art sculptures that will be configured to highlight the preservation of habitat, conservation of natural resources and litter deterrence, the application states.

Accompanying each sculpture will be an educational interpretative sign to explain the sculptures' significance and educate the public about Gahanna's environmental assets and the need to protect them.

"In many environmental green initiatives, the prevention of litter is often left out of the discussion," Mallett said. "Teaching your children and others to recycle, not to litter, and to tidy up your neighborhood or adopt an area is something everyone can start doing today."

This summer, Make Gahanna Yours will launch a marketing campaign to raise awareness about the Cleaner Greener efforts, according to Kneeland.

She said the group will partner with the city to create an infrastructure to promote the participation of students, residents, businesses and civic associations in improving the appearance of Gahanna. The effort will create an online, virtual GIS map to ensure all roadways are adopted and give public recognition of all adoptees.

To get involved, visit makegahannayours.com.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla