ATHENS – At the end of next week, people driving the roads of Athens may see 140 children picking up litter.

Until then, starting today, those students from Athens Elementary School are gathering pledges for their litter pickup to fund programs at the school.

Coordinated with police and administrators, the trash-a-thon teaches students about cleaning the environment and helping their school, said Karen Corson, who has organized the event for 16 years.

“It teaches the kids that we all have to help. We’re all good enough to help. We didn’t necessarily throw the garbage out, but we pick it up,” said Corson, who represents Athens on the School Administrative District 59 Board of Directors.

Students from Athens, Brighton Plantation and East Madison, in kindergarten through eighth grade, participate in the pledge gathering and litter pickup, which will occur the afternoon of May 7.

The money that students raise is split between the Athens Recreation Department and the school’s “learning power” groups, which gather according to interest, not age, to learn specialty subjects such as woodworking, banking or gardening.

Students have raised between $1,000 and $1,800 in the past, Corson said. This year’s pickup will cover about 15 sections of road, and teachers will supervise.

There’s usually “a lot” of trash, Corson said. The pickup lasts about two hours.

Students win prizes for the pledges they gather, and everyone receives a complimentary water bottle.

To donate, call Corson at 654-3782, or to sponsor students’ efforts, call the school at 654-2561.