With a new name and a more finely tuned focus, the City of Gulfport’s Junk Drop evolved out of a multi-faceted community event once spearheaded by the local non-profit Gulfport Neighbors under the direction of Margarete Tober and in partnership with City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
“I am very proud of what was created by Gulfport Neighbors, the city, volunteers and many community participants,” Tober wrote in a Facebook post where she was called upon by numerous residents to clear up confusion about how and why the yearly event had transformed.
Originally conceived as a free-of-charge way for citizens of Gulfport to do away with bulky items and brush, an early challenge was figuring out how to ensure items could be collected in an efficient and timely fashion.
“Jim was fine with the free part,” Tober says of trying to develop the first event with the city manager, “but saw some potential glitches with the pickup part – i.e. people not putting things out on time. So we comprised and agreed that residents could bring the goods to the Neighborhood Center.”
With a framework in place, Tober and her team were adding elements early on, like Coffee with a Cop, a treasure swap, as well as bicycle registrations and helmet giveaways.
“As time went on,” Tober says, “we tried to include other groups and services such as the Community Garden, shredding, Plastic-Free Gulfport, Hazmat, plants for food, etc.”
Gulfport Neighbors negotiated with the city government to transfer ownership. The city’s event would maintain the “drop” portion, but not the “swap.” Junk in the Trunk became the City of Gulfport Junk Drop where proof of Gulfport residency still affords citizens the opportunity to unload large, unwanted items as well as electronics and chemicals at no cost.