What started as a small group effort, filling trash bags with litter from various places in Hannibal has now turned into a community effort.
It was something most people wouldn't think twice about.
But not Carl Brothers. The 13-year-old immediately pointed out that his friend, 10-year-old Jarren Landis, ran past a piece of garbage in Hannibal's Central Park on Thursday afternoon.
Instead of continuing on, Jarren stopped, turned around, and picked up an Oreo package wrapper gently rolling in the breeze near the sidewalk closest to Broadway.
Jarren tried to open one of the park's green trash receptacles with no luck. Undeterred, he looked around and deposited the trash in a nearby trash can.
That's an unremarkable act by most accounts, except Jarren, Carl, and Carl's twin brother Howard Brothers have made it a mission to make Hannibal tidier, and now they want the whole community to get involved.
What started as a small group effort, filling trash bags with litter from various places in Hannibal has now turned into a community effort. The trio call themselves “Pick It Up” — and they want you to do just that. The group hosted a litter pick-up “party” Friday afternoon near the intersection of McMasters Ave. and Stardust Dr. in Hannibal.
“We've seen a lot of trash and we thought it would help to clean our neighborhood,” Carl said about the genesis of the group.
Added Jarren: “My mom was showing me a lot of complaints on Facebook about how Hannibal was so dirty and how people needed to start cleaning it up, so instead of complaining, we just did something.”
They started last summer with the help of Jarren's mother Adrienne Landis and the twins' parents.
Filling four or five industrial-size bags of trash, they've cleaned litter in the Walnut St./viaduct area, along Highway 79, and are now focusing their efforts in the area along Stardust.
Each time they've started picking up an area, they've found an assortment of flotsam and jetsam. They've reported picking up countless soda bottles and beer cans, paper bags and other junk.
They've also come across some dangerous items, like broken glass and even needles.
Landis said the boys aren't permitted to pick up potentially dangerous items. She's looking for ways to properly dispose of things like discarded medications or needles.
“I think it's awesome. Kids at this age are worried about their phones or their games but this particular group of kids decided 'Hey, we're not going to do that. We're going to pick up trash.' And I think that says a lot about their character,” Landis said. “So I'm very proud of them.”
So far, the feedback the group has gotten has exceeded their expectations. Scores of people have liked and shared photos of the boys working to beautify the community.
“I think it's amazing to see how people have encouraged them to keep going,” Landis said.
The have also fed off the positive energy.
“We have a lot of cars go by and honk at us. A lot of semis honk, too,” Carl said.
They hoped to get more members of the public involved, starting with Friday's pick up event.
“We want to encourage others to get out and do it, too. They don't have to do it with us. We've encouraged people to post pictures on social media with the hashtag #pickitup that way people can see what everyone has accomplished,” Landis said.
In the end, though, the boys have a simple message for the community: stop littering.
And to do as the boys call themselves: Pick It Up.
Reach editor Eric Dundon at firstname.lastname@example.org .