INDIANAPOLIS — Churches, schools and other groups earned cash Monday by cleaning up the trash left behind by Indianapolis 500 fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Cleanup crews arrived at the track shortly after sunrise the day after the race to remove furniture, beer cans, food and forgotten clothing from the grounds.
"It's an amazing beautiful place. It deserves to be cleaned up," said Russ Rogers, a member of one of the crews.
Each group is paid based on how much ground their members cover, with some groups earning as much as $3,500 for the largest sections. The fundraising opportunity is so popular that some groups have been doing it for decades, and others spend time on a waiting list before they're chosen, Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Doug Boles said.
Andrew Gossell, the athletic director for Covenant Christian High School in Indianapolis, said the money his group earns means students won't have to pay athletic fees that average about $100 each.
"Just financially, it helps us offset some of our costs and I tell the kids we make a few thousand bucks for three to four hours work," Gossell said.
Teri Downey from Eastside Church of God estimated her group would earn $1,800 for a mission trip to Paraguay.
Angelique Johnson was part of a group from Providence AME Church working the bleachers in the third turn.
"It's really nasty, like mushy food," she said.
Another cleaner, Kione Smith, said she wears two or three pairs of gloves at a time.
"I think it's worth raising the money and doing a good cause for like, community service, but I don't think it's so worth getting debris all over you," Smith said.
Boles said he didn't know how much trash there was other than "tons and tons." Anything left over after Monday would be handled by IMS crews Tuesday and Wednesday.