Volunteers sweep litter off sidewalks
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bensonhurst residents were greeted with clean, litter-free sidewalks on Wednesday, thanks to a community cleanup organized by Assemblymember William Colton and Councilmember Mark Treyger as part on an ongoing “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign aimed at getting rid of trash and raising awareness about the importance of keeping streets and sidewalks clean.
Dozens of volunteers, including local high school students, came to the clean-up headquarters at the United Progressive Democratic Club on Bay 25th Street to pick up brooms, shovels, trash bags and gloves supplied by the New York City Department of Sanitation and then fanned out across Bensonhurst to campaign to conduct the clean-up.
The volunteers cleaned a wide area of the community including the blocks along the 86th Street commercial zone from 25th Avenue to 16th Avenue, and the blocks along 18th Avenue from Benson Avenue to 82nd Street. In addition, Colton’s forces cleared away litter from the streets surrounding Bensonhurst Park on Bay Parkway and Cropsey Avenue.
The teens also handed out informational flyers, translated into different languages, to encourage residents and storeowners to keep their sidewalks and streets clean.
“It’s important to get our issues out there,” said volunteer Albert Tong. Tong, a student at the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York, said the cleanup-up campaign had great support among local young people. “It brings a lot of people out,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Albert’s mother, Nancy Tong, also took part in Wednesday’s clean-up. “As a mother, I appreciate how important it is to provide young people with the opportunity to assert their neighborhood leadership in making everyone aware of the need to clean up our neighborhood. It is great seeing our youth take pride in working to better our community,” said Tong, who is the incoming Democratic district leader of the 47th Assembly District.
The “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign, which was launched in 2011 by Colton and Priscilla Consolo, a local civic leader, has become tremendously popular with neighborhood residents and businesses, the assemblymember said.
The clean-ups take place several times a year.
“There are several goals this campaign has aimed to accomplish, beyond physically cleaning up our local streets and parks. First, we believe that increased cleanliness in our community will increase commerce for our local small businesses. Secondly, we aim to inform residents and businesses about proper sanitation rules and guidelines, to make sure they are following correct practices when disposing waste. Third, we want our youth to become examples for the rest of the community to follow,” Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) said.
Consolo lauded the volunteers who show up for each clean-up. “This campaign has only been so successful thanks to all our young volunteers who have shown tremendous dedication to our campaign. Our volunteers are always passionate and enthusiastic about giving back to the community. They are a clean-up army,” she said.
Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) wasn’t on hand for the start of Wednesday’s clean-up, but he issued a statement about the importance of the effort, which he said has had a tremendous impact on the neighborhood. “After all, there is no greater civics lessons for our youth than the chance to take ownership of their community and give back,” he stated.
The list of volunteers include: members of District 9 High School Key Club, students from New Utrecht High School, members from Our Lady of Grace Teen Group, students from Midwood High School’s Key Club, students from Brooklyn Technical High School’s Red Cross Club and Key Club, students from Edward R. Murrow High School’s Key Club, members from Bensonhurst Cluster Youth Ministry, students from Madison High School’s Key Club, members from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School’s Key Club and members from John Dewey High School's Key Club.
The volunteers were treated to free pizza and soft drinks at the end of their work day.