Overcast skies with occasional rain filled up most of the day at Smith Mountain Lake on Saturday, May 4th, but it was no match for the shining spirit of local volunteers who took to the shorelines and water to decrease debris during the 36th annual Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup Day.

The annual cleanup initiative, which has been organized by Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission (TLAC) since 1988 in conjunction with the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce and Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA), brings out neighborhood groups, businesses, individuals, families, civic organizations and others who volunteer their time and effort to remove debris along the shoreline and in the lake.

 

Final figures on the volume of debris collected continue to be tallied.

Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup Day is more than just a makeover to restore the beauty in and along the lake. It’s a safety effort too. “The biggest concern of large debris is the navigational hazards it can create,” said Sage. “A large tree limb floating beneath the surface can cause problems to the integrity of watercraft.”

A total of 293 volunteers registered for the 2024 Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup Day, but not all of them participated on May 4th. Individuals and groups can also organize their own cleanup day at later dates, according to Sage. “[The kick-off on] May 4th gives individuals and organizations a chance to participate together in a community-wide effort,” said Sage. “A lot of individuals and civic groups also organize their own cleanup day at different times during the month.”

On May 4th, volunteers were provided trash bags, gloves, t-shirts and bottled water, along with celebration tickets to attend the volunteer appreciation event held at Mango’s Bar & Grill on May 8th. Many also brought their own tools and equipment. Businesses and larger groups that organize their own on-the-water cleanup event at different times in May are eligible for free gloves, trash bags and commemorative shirts (while supplies last). Reimbursement for costs incurred for dumpster and landfill fees up to $400 may also can be submitted, according to Sage.

On May 4th and 5th, dumpsters for volunteers to dispose logs and other large debris were available at five locations around the lake, including Magnum Point Marina, Walnut Run, Gills Creek Marina, Skelton 4-H Center and Bay Rock Marina.

Sage said Bay Rock Marina, Mitchell’s Point Marina, Gill’s Creek Marina and Magnum Pointe Marina all provided a boat for civic organizations to use during the cleanup. SML Marine Fire and Rescue provided assistance at Bay Rock Marina and Gill’s Creek Marina.

The volunteer appreciation event held at Mango’s Bar & Grill on May 8th brought out about 100 volunteers, according to Butterfield. Guests were served dinner and awarded door prizes while joined together to celebrate a job well done for contributing to one of Smith Mountain Lake’s key efforts aimed at keeping the lake beautiful and safe. “This is one of SML’s most critical initiatives each year because, as a community, volunteers, sponsors and in-kind donors make the lake safer and more beautiful to welcome the upcoming season,” Sage said.

“The spirit of community during Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup Day, it’s fantastic,” said Butterfield. “We extend a big thank you to everyone who participated.”

Sponsors for the 36th annual Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup Day included Appalachian Power Co. (Diamond), Western Virginia Water Authority (Platinum) and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain LakeCapps Home Building CenterGlenda McDaniel – Long and Foster SML RealtyWyndRose Eco BoutiqueSavvy Promos and Turner’s Dock Building (Gold).