Susan Sharbaugh and her granddaughter Gracie have been teaming up for the Gill-Montague team for years

Seven tires, three mattresses, 500 pounds of scrap metal, a couch, and 24 trash bags worth of bottles and cans.

Those were just some of the thousands of items of trash collected by 50 volunteers organized by FirstLight Power along the Franklin County stretch of the Connecticut River for the 24th annual “Source to the Sea Cleanup” held on September 26.

In all, FirstLight’s Gill-Montague team collected enough trash to fill a 22-foot-long, 20-cubic yard Dumpster. The group of 16 young people and 34 adults visited and cleaned up a dozen sites in six towns and villages: Erving, Greenfield, Millers Falls, Montague, Northfield, and Turners Falls.

Beth Bazler, FirstLight’s Senior Land & Compliance Specialist and team leader, said, “Some members of our crew have spent decades collecting dirty diapers, muddy mattresses, and literally thousands of ‘nip’ bottles, and return every year because of the great feeling of making a positive difference.’’

“With our social schedules reduced this year by COVID-19,’’ Beth added, “the reuniting of outdoor-loving kindred spirits—with proper masking, precautions, and social distancing–was even sweeter in 2020.’’

The Source to the Sea cleanup, organized by the Connecticut River Conservancy, every year engages thousands of volunteers who collect trash along 174 miles of the Connecticut River’s banks, from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound.

Many thanks to the Town of Montague for providing safe disposal of the trash, and FirstLight would like to offer special thanks to USA Hauling and Recycling, which provided dumpsters, and the Wagon Wheel, for feeding our volunteers with delicious sandwiches.

One piece of advice from Beth that we love to share: If you couldn’t make it for the Source to the Sea cleanup, the next time you go out for a walk along the river, bring along a trash bag. We can all do our part to preserve and protect our beloved river and the land along its banks.