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News > Americans, Italians unite for a common goal
Americans, Italians unite for a common goal

Posted 4/7/2012   Updated 4/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/7/2012 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Oscar the Grouch would have loved swimming in the more than 9,200 pounds of trash Aviano Airmen and their families helped pick up over a three-weekend span March 18-31.

More than 400 Americans participated in the ecological day events of five neighboring Italian towns: Aviano, Budoia, Fontanafredda, Roveredo and San Quirino.

"Compared to years past, we had many more volunteers in all the communities," said Giovanna Coppola, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron community recycling liaison. "These events are a significant way to promote good interaction and build a strong relationship between the American and Italian community. It's also important as participants get a firsthand look at reality and how much waste and trash day-by-day is abandoned along the roadside, fields, ditches and near the dumpsters."

Coppola added that the annual community cleanup is a great way "to educate today's and future adults, and promote pride in ownership for both communities aimed at preserving the environment for generations to come."

Each community cleanup began early morning and finished early afternoon, followed by a "thank you" lunch for all the volunteers. Fontanafredda's cleanup event culminated with a special presentation by the city administration and the 31st Fighter Wing commander, in which they gave each volunteer a certificate of appreciation. San Quirino added its own spin on the cleanup day event with some friendly competition that included a trophy presentation to the team who picked up the most trash. This year's winner was a group of 26 Americans from the base representing the Air Force Sergeants Association Chapter 1657.

Senior Master Sgt. Jamie Kitchen of the 603rd Air Control Squadron and team leader said he was just happy to be part of such a great community event.

"I've participated in ecological days in the past and have always enjoyed them and I appreciate their efforts to keep our local communities clean," Kitchen said. "I also think it's important to be involved in the local community and present a positive image of U.S. military members other than what they may see on the television or in the news."

"Taking home the trophy showed the members of the San Quirino community that the base volunteers put forth a great effort in the event," he added. "Our victory in San Quirino set the bar high for the members of AFSA Chapter 1657 to defend the trophy for next year's Ecological Day Derby."

Coppola noted that each of the neighboring communities and their leaders really appreciated the effort put forth by members of the base in keeping the shared communities clean.

"All city officials appreciated the generous participation by the American community as it displayed the positive interest and attitude in achieving the common goal of a better place to live," she said. "I want to thank all the volunteers for their great support and participation."

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