WILKES-BARRE — Seventeen groups of concerned residents made their way to the streets of their own neighborhoods Saturday with garbage bags, brooms and rakes in hand. It was all part of the Great American Cleanup, scheduled each year as part of Earth Day activities.
Maria Dobish was part of a group in the Rolling Mill Hill area near Solomon Creek, and those volunteers have found some items of trash they described as “unsettling.”
“Last year, a family moved out of an apartment and simply dumped all their belongings in the creek,” she said. “We were able to report them to the police because among other things, they dumped a copy of their driver’s licenses and Social Security cards.”
As Dobish spoke, she looked across the street at her own well-kept house, sporting yellow hanging plants and a colorful flag.
“People have to care about their own properties,” she said. “That’s the key to having good neighborhoods.”
Not far away, at Eyerman Park, also in the Rolling Mill Hill area, Justin Garvey, 10, said he had simply come out to the park to play, then joined in the cleanup effort.
“I have a little brother and sister,” he said, smiling as he raked yet another pile of leaves into a garbage bag. “So, I’m always cleaning up.”
Linda Joseph, president of the Rolling Mill Hill Resident Association, said the effort brought the neighborhood together.
“After weather that blew everything around, it’s a great time to clean up the neighborhood,” she said.
In South Wilkes-Barre, a group on Elizabeth Street was not only working hard, but working up an appetite.
Ian Hughes said his group had started the day with coffee and doughnuts and would be wrapping up with a barbecue.
Hughes said about 20 neighbors gather each year to beautify their street and get to know each other.
“The neat thing about it is that we have younger people and older people, about 50-50,” he said.
At Mayflower Park, city council president Beth Gilbert passed out garbage bags and rakes. The aim was to make the park a bit more attractive for local children.
And although the work was slow-going, as hours passed, the park’s appearance showed marked improvement.
“City workers can’t do everything,” said Gilbert. “So residents should do whatever they can, all year long, to keep the city clean.”