By Michael Hill
A new way to use a shovel for a member of the Trenton Professional Old Timers Association — raking, sweeping and bagging trash and beautifying the state’s capital.
“We think the community of Trenton is a vital place for all of us. Since we live here, it’s our duty to keep this place clean and we cannot sit back and give everything for the state to do. So, think that we can be of use,” said Association President Hector Weah.
The Old Timers are among hundreds volunteering in Trenton’s 28th Annual Clean Communities Litter March thanks to a $100,000 federal grant.
From the steps of City Hall, Mayor Eric Jackson and others urged hundreds to invest in their city by cleaning it.
“This is not just one day. This is the kickoff to tell people in the city, around the city that we want a clean and mean city of Trenton. Are you with me? As of today, we’re gonna put on an assault on those that will do illegal trash dumping in our city, in our alleyways and our abandoned properties,” Jackson said.
“We’re here today to help the city of Trenton be a cleaner, more beautiful place to live,” said New Jersey Clean Communities Director of Outreach John Pitonyak.
“It’s a really bad habit. People seem to think that they can just, you know, that the city is their garbage can. It’s a horrible thing,” said Guy Watson, bureau chief of DEP Recycling and Hazardous Waste Management.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is among the sponsors and says Trenton puts on one of the bigger events in the state.
“One of the things about litter is it’s not just that it ends up in the street but it tends to go down to the storm drains, it goes in to the rivers, creeks and that and it makes it tough for all those little critters that live there be able to live. So, it’s a great thing to clean up,” Watson said.
The city of Trenton with all of its little volunteers in tow plan to collect some 1 million pounds of trash and recyclables on the eve of Earth Day.
Children from MLK School seemed downright enthusiastic about cleaning one park, swarming like moths to a light to clean their city.
When asked if he likes doing this, fourth-grader Carlos Bedal said, “Yes. … Because we can help. Our country is going to be more clean.”
“I was ‘brooming’ all the park because for me I like a lot of park so I don’t like the park dirty,” said Henry Gutierrez.
It’s one job to clean the streets and parks, it’s another to keep them clean. Nine-year-old Patrick Quaye has a message for those who litter and keep on littering: “Keep the town clean. It’s better to be good, not mean.”