Motorists on the roads this Saturday are advised to be on the lookout for a rare site which only appears once a year - orange-shirted volunteers participating in the annual On the Roads with Jesus trash cleanup.
Saturday will mark the third annual church-led, county-wide cleanup effort. This year more than 1,500 volunteers from 15 churches are expected to participate.
Volunteers will be picking up litter from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. At noon volunteers will congregate at Sharp Field where the First United Methodist youth group will have a concession stand. At 12:30 p.m. there will be a group prayer.
Todd Teasley, an organizer of the event, said the trash cleanup will take place around the areas of the 15 churches participating in the event.
Volunteers must be at least 12 years old to participate in On the Roads with Jesus. To become involved with the event contact Eastridge Community Church at (770) 786-2048 and ask to speak to Linda Miller.
Teasley said On the Roads with Jesus had three goals: to unify the county's churches, to show Newton County how much its churches care and to give the gift of a clean community to residents in the county.
Teasley said the event originally began as a mission project for Eastridge Community Church.
"We wanted to do something that we could do in a day and give a gift to the community," Teasley said. "It was such a success. The first day we did it, we had 1,000 people."
Last year the cleanup effort was expanded to include 20 churches with 2,000 volunteers participating. Though the event this year will not break last year's volunteer record, Teasley said he has big plans for future On the Roads with Jesus events.
"If we could get 40 churches and 4,000 people, in two hours we could pick up every single major road in Newton County," Teasley said. "Our goal is to get every church involved."
Fifteen churches have committed to take part in the cleanup effort this year. They are: Eastridge Community Church, Springfield Baptist, Potter's House, Mansfield Baptist, Covington First United Methodist Church, Starrsville United Methodist Church, Church at Covington, Church of the Good Shepherd, Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, Tabernacle Praise, Bethel Bara Baptist, Early Hope, Prospect United Methodist Church and Hebron World Church.
All volunteers will receive a free orange T-shirt with the On the Roads with Jesus logo emblazoned on it. Teasley said the shirts serve as both a road safety measure and as an enticement to participate in the cleanup.
"People will do anything for a T-shirt," Teasley joked.
The cost of the T-shirts has been paid for by corporate sponsors. Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Newton County Sherriff's Office have also contributed logistical assistance to the event. Volunteers will be broken down into teams of approximately 150 people. NCSO and the county's municipal police departments will have 35 deputies and police officers patrolling the roads on Saturday, warning motorists to slow down as they drive by areas where volunteers are cleaning up.
There will also be extra garbage trucks on the road the day of the event to pick up trash bags as they are filled by volunteers.