It’s time to clean up Portales again, according to Portales Deputy City Clerk Veda Urioste, who coordinates the annual Portales Tas No Mas, previously called the Trek for Trash.
Urioste said this year, the city coordinated the event to happen the weekend before Eastern New Mexico University homecoming.
“We kind of geared it towards cleaning up the town for homecoming next weekend,” Urioste said. “So, hopefully we’ll get some more ENMU students involved this year.”
Urioste said the event has taken place for more than 10 years and its new name, Tas No Mas, which means Toss No More, represents what the event is geared towards.
“Basically what that means is trying to get people to understand the importance of not littering and of cleaning up,” Urioste said. “You’d be surprised what people will notice while we’re out there and it makes people think twice about throwing things out the window.”
Urioste said the amount of volunteers for the event varies each year with last year’s event having 34 people.
“We hope it will grow more and more over the years but right now, we just take whoever will come out,” Urioste said. “It would be nice, in future years, if we had hundreds of people picking up trash along the highway. That is our big goal at the end of the rainbow but we’ll see what happens.”
Last year, Portales High School science teacher Jack Willis brought a group of about eight high school students out to help with the event.
Willis said helping the community is a requirement of the high school’s MESA club — Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement. Willis is the sponsor for the club.
“It’s a great program for kids,” Willis said of MESA. “I think MESA is trying to get kids to understand that to be a good part of a community, you have to be a good citizen.”
He said the club is currently at its highest membership with 22 students. He said he hopes at least 15 of the members will be out at the Tas No Mas event this year.
“Most of the time, the kids are really positive about it,” Willis said. “They enjoy doing things as a club and they enjoy giving back to the community.”
Willis said he and his club members participate in the Tas No Mas and The Great American Clean Up every Year as well as doing other community service projects for the city, such as painting 105 trash bins to cover up graffiti.
Willis said he joins the students for all of the events.
“Part of my responsibility as MESA sponsor is to not just guide them but to be a good role model,” Willis said. “I think if I’m going to ask kids to go out and do those kinds of things then I need to be willing to go out and do them too.”
Urioste said the main focus will be cleaning up U.S. 70 and she encourages all community members to get involved if they are able.
“It’s our community; let’s clean it up,” Urioste said. “And not just because it’s homecoming but because it’s nice to have new people come through and say, ‘hey, that’s a really nice community.’ And we can always keep it that way too if we just work together to make it happen.”