Pineville and Matthews are mobilizing volunteers to help make the towns cleaner and healthier.
The efforts are part of The Great American Cleanup, the nation's largest community-improvement program. The annual event, part of the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, runs through May 31.
"It's taking ownership of where you live," said Jake Wilson, senior environmental specialist for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Land Use and Environmental Services Agency. Wilson provides cleanup tools, including litter sticks and bags and literature, for community volunteers.
Wilson said Pineville and Matthews have been big contributors to the cleanup efforts.
There will be a large-scale "Litter Sweep" in Matthews from 8 a.m.-noon Saturday. Volunteers will meet at Stumptown Park on East Trade Street, where they will be assigned to a cleanup area. Consideration will be given to families with small children when assignments are given.
All groups and individuals are invited.
"Do it for your future, for your kids' futures," said Wilson. "That's why I do it. I want to leave something better to pass on to our kids."
After the cleanup, volunteers can attend festivities at the new Matthews Four Mile Creek Greenway, which will celebrate its official opening.
Wilson said anyone can plan their own effort any time, year-round, and he'll provide supplies. It's especially important given the county's recent budget woes.
"We need the community to get involved and act quickly," said Wilson. "You can adopt a highway (or) a city street in Charlotte. You can take ownership of where you live. ... Get motivated. Get the neighbors together. Be proactive."
Wilson said North Carolina spent $17 million on litter pickup in 2010.
Pineville Town Administrator Mike Rose said the cleanup also is a quality-of-life issue.
"When our town looks clean it increases our property values," he said. "It helps show we are dedicated to making this a nice community."
Pineville also has asked residents to become "Water Watchers" for the town's two major creeks, Sugar Creek and McAlpine Creek.
The program was initiated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services in spring 2010. Volunteers regularly visit their local watersheds and call 311 to report issues ranging from strange smells or colors, dead wildlife and vegetation to illegal dumping.
Wilson also said recycling is a large component of the Great American Cleanup. When a street or neighborhood is cleaned by volunteers, most of the collected litter is recycled. He said he hopes cleanup efforts will raise awareness about the benefits of recycling.
"Eighty percent of what goes into a landfill can be composted or recycled," said Wilson.
Rose said he hopes the county's call to action will inspire Pineville residents to recycle more. Pineville is now at a 44 percent pickup rate for curbside recycling.
"It's our community that we are trying to preserve," said Rose. "Volunteering is a way for us to stay clean and green, to improve our future."