Adopt a Highway: The true treasures of National Volunteer Week

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications

Adopt a Highway volunteer National Volunteer Week 2021 treasures roadside cleanupA $20 bill folded neatly into a dry water bottle, found by a volunteer on her birthday near Sasabe. A relic yet undetermined as an authentic cannonball from a historic battle fought in Avra Valley. 

These are examples of artifacts that sometimes delight or puzzle the mind, found each year among the thousands of pounds of trash collected by Adopt a Highway volunteers along state highways. 

Such uncovered treasures, however mysterious, brighten volunteer work while hours are spent bagging countless cigarette butts, unsecured lumber, broken auto parts and glass shards. 

Some groups host creative contests like "oddest items found" to boost camaraderie among team members. The tagged elf hat shown in the photo collage probably won the contest that day. 

But volunteers are the real treasures here – working quietly behind the scenes to ensure a traveler’s view of Arizona is not marred by tossed diapers. They are responsible for random acts of kindness too, like returning the occasional cell phone or wallet to their rightful owner. 

These individuals have reported they take pride in their community and the beauty of Arizona. Others are new to Arizona and want to be part of the litter solution. Those responses don't make headlines, but are the values held by those who embody the basic principles of volunteerism. 

ADOT celebrates 129 volunteer groups whose signs are marked by an additional special acknowledgement placard that reads “Outstanding Volunteer” – meaning the group organizes, conducts and reports cleanups at least three or more times per year. You are the superstars in your community.

To become a treasured part of the solution, check out the Adopt a Highway Program. You never know – victory may be yours if you find the next kitchen sink in Prescott or a pink tutu near Flagstaff. 

And you can report litterbugs by calling 511 or visiting litter.az.gov. If you live in Maricopa County, check out Don’t Trash Arizona for more facts about litter and litter reduction.

Your community needs you. Contact Tucson Clean & Beautiful and Keep Phoenix Beautiful for opportunities to make a positive impact in your hometown.