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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Keep Virginia Cozy: Volunteers Needed

by Julie Peterson

On Tuesday evenings, you’ll likely find Brian Bell, founder of Keep Virginia Cozy, at Väsen Brewing, having a beer with some old and new friends. It’s another Trashy Tuesday and they’ve all just finished picking up litter in Richmond. It’s a regular activity that Bell’s nonprofit created.

In less than three years, Keep Virginia Cozy volunteers have removed about 45,000 pounds of litter from Virginia’s waterways, park systems, mountain trails and neighborhoods. There’s plenty more to do and more volunteers are always needed.

Keep Virginia Cozy has partnerships with local businesses so that events are free for volunteers. Cost of supplies for picking up trash are covered, for example. Volunteers seem to love what’s going on as more show up every week. Bell says, “They’re the best kind of people: generous, altruistic, making the world a better place.” He likens the organization to a big family making great memories.

Working with agencies in Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest and Jefferson National Forest, volunteers maintain trail sections and perform beautification projects. These activities include family-friendly guided day hikes, overnight backpacking trips, invasive plant removal, trail restoration and outdoor education classes.

“People of all ages can learn how to be comfortable outdoors, whether it’s camping or just reading a book under a tree,” Bell says.

Wildlife Wednesdays teach about local plants and animals, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. A popular topic is bats.

Attendees build a bat house to take home.

Bell believes that everyone can make a difference by volunteering, spreading the word about events or just following his mantra: “Be kind, smile at strangers, pick up litter.”

For more information on how to volunteer or donate, email [email protected]. Keep up with (and share) events on Facebook @KeepVirginiaCozy and read more at Keep Virginia Cozy’s mission is to protect wilderness and inspire all Virginians to care for our wild places. The organization contributes to better protection, stewardship and restoration of our public lands, preserving our rich natural legacy for current and future generations.