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Amenia residents help keep town clean

AMENIA — Last Saturday was beautiful and sunny when Amenia residents, young and old, were smiling and chatting and … picking up trash? On Saturday, April 30, a group of volunteers from the area celebrated Earth Day with the good deed of a trash pickup day from the local roadsides. Amenia town Councilwoman Vicki Doyle has led the trash pickup for eight years. “Some spots are worse than others,” she said. “We tackle the worst ones, but it’s unbelievable what people will discard. But Earth Day is becoming so popular recently, and thanks to the volunteers, it’s good to see sunshine and the daffodils again.”Earth Day activities, held in April, have also become important for students who wonder what the environmental impact will be on their futures. Two teenage volunteers were hard at work, handing out large plastic bags and work gloves. Megan Bailey, 16, explained her efforts of goodwill for the environment. “Well, I did this for myself, but also it’s a requirement to have community service for the National Honor Society at my school,” she said. “It’s more of a fun activity and gets us outside … to save the planet!”Small groups of two or three volunteers, armed with rakes, shovels and a little elbow-grease, went inch by inch over their assigned areas, bending to pick up every last tin can, glass bottle, candy wrapper, Styrofoam cup and so much more. The roadside trash filled bag after bag.Kevin Cassone and Gretchen Hitselberger were two more trash day volunteers celebrating Earth Day. “Last year we volunteered to do it. So this year,” Cassone smiled, “it’s put up or shut up. And next year we’re going do it again.” The pair was assigned to clear one of the most difficult spots. They picked up non-recyclables for more than an hour, but barely covered a quarter-mile. Both were hot and sweating doing their tasks, but grinning as well.They were able to manage all but one thing — a large pile of asphalt and roofing shingles that had tumbled down a steep hill.Hitselberger said, “It doesn’t look great, but we’ll do what we can.” “It’s a poor man’s workout,” Cassone joked.Cassone is also a volunteer for the beautification of Amenia, including his planting and caring for flowers in public areas, in the hopes of encouraging people to make Amenia their home. “I thought about the older people who were retiring, and this is a big change for them, so it’s time for us to step up,” he said. Earth Day is celebrating its 41st anniversary. There are plenty of activities for schoolchildren, but also some good ones for adults. Plant a tree, reuse recyclable materials, even encourage people to use recyclable grocery bags. And remember what Councilwoman Doyle said: “Earth Day should be every day.”To check out more about National Earth Day, visit www.Earthday.org.

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