May 29, 2008

River Relief partners with Wal-Mart

by Melanie Cheney

As one of the organizers for our annual Missouri River clean-up here in Mid-Missouri, it was part of my job to do as much outreach as possible in the community. That meant reaching out to area business’ for support either by financial means, in-kind donations, or volunteer recruitment. I am always surprised when folks get excited and energized about a clean-up in their area, enthusiastically lending their support by any means necessary. Wal-Mart did just that and more!

I started making phone calls to ask Wal-Mart about their community support programs, though it took several times, I finally got the right person on the phone. One of the managers had gotten my message, checked out our website, and had all hands on deck, though he was obviously a very busy guy. Shane Jordan immediately offered to help River Relief apply for a $1,000 grant and was rounding up volunteers from all of the Columbia stores, including Sam’s Club to participate in this year’s cleanup. He was down right excited about coming down to the river with his co-workers. In addition, the week before the clean-up he asked all of his soda vendors for donations of beverages to bring to the clean-up for lunch, and he did just that.

On a beautiful spring day in Hartsburg, a small handful of Wal-Mart volunteers made their way down to the Missouri River, got out on our boats, and cleaned up the banks of the river. They stayed for lunch, and then went out again, even though most of the volunteers generally go home after lunch. After a hard day’s work, Americorps Stream Team Assistant Chuelo Arias, Missouri River Relief Program Manager Steve Schnarr, and myself (also a Stream Team Assistant) all individually encouraged the Wal-Mart Green Team to start a Stream Team of their own. When I called Shane back a few weeks later, he had done just that! They were starting a stream team to clean the Hinkson Creek which flows directly behind their store, and has been on Missouri’s impaired water ways list for sometime. I couldn’t have been happier. As if that weren’t enough, he told me they were waiting on the $1,000 giant sized check to arrive to present to us at a special reception at Wal-Mart. Wow!

Thanks to all the enthusiastic volunteers & coordinators like Shane Jordan & the Wal-Mart Green Team, I think Missouri River Relief and the Stream Team Program have made a partner for life!

The Hartsburg clean-up was possible because of the additional financial support of Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources and Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District, both long-time supporters. A big thanks to our other local sponsors, Lakota Coffee who donated fresh coffee grounds & supplies to our crew, Panera Bread Company who kept us fed with bagels and cream cheese, Veolia Environmental Service who supplied the roll-off containers for landfill trash, and Civic Recycling who are also a life long partner is taking our muddy recyclables for free. There are many many more sponsors who support River Relief’s mission to introduce good stewards to our beloved Big Muddy, for more information, please visit our website at and check out our other blog’s too!

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