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Members of the 8U Grand Island Vikings softball team, their coaches, and the bags of garbage that they collected during the Islandwide cleanup.
Members of the 8U Grand Island Vikings softball team, their coaches, and the bags of garbage that they collected during the Islandwide cleanup.

Earth Day celebrated with an Islandwide cleanup

Sat, May 4th 2024 07:30 am

Story and Photos by Alice Gerard

Senior Contributing Writer

Members of the 8U Grand Island Viking softball team said they enjoyed participating in the April 20 Islandwide cleanup, despite brisk winds and cool temperatures.

“It’s cold,” said 8-year-old Reese. “It was fun to experience it. It’s worth it. It was great to hang out with friends. We made a sign for people to honk.”

She noted 35 people honked their horns in response to the sign.

Kaylee, also 8 years old, said she enjoyed “picking up trash with my friends and making people honk.”

“I liked helping the Earth, hanging out with my softball team and having hot cocoa,” said 8-year-old Adriana.

The Islandwide Cleanup was “organized by the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, The Town of Grand Island, Grand Island NY Rotary Club, Niagara River Greenway Commission & Grand Island Lions Club,” to celebrate Earth Day, according to Facebook posting by the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce posted the event “continues to grow larger each year. It's a great way for families, businesses, organizations, teams and individual citizens to come together and make a huge positive impact on the appearance and environmental health of our Island.”

Grand Island Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford said, “There were about 20 groups, scattered around the Island, that participated in the Saturday cleanup. We filled up a 30-yard dumpster.”

He said he wanted to thank all the participants, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, Casella, the Lions Club and the Rotary Club.

Crawford expressed concern about the ongoing problem with litter on Grand Island.

“Most people are troubled that we still have a littering issue in both Grand Island and in the United States, that people don’t dispose of their fast-food stuff and other things in a very sensible manner,” he said. “They throw it out of their windows. It’s just troublesome in today’s age that people don’t take the time to take it home with them and throw it away when they get home. We had young kids – the soccer group and other groups – that were out there, getting first-hand knowledge of what that whole litter issue is.”

Softball coach Robert Tyrrell described the section of Grand Island Boulevard where his team was cleaning as “the worst spot.”

The activity was not always pleasant for the young softball players.

Lexi, who will soon celebrate her 9th birthday, walked into a “pricker bush” during the cleanup.

“It’s cold and it’s wet. I’m muddy, and it’s disgusting,” Lexi exclaimed.

“We found a dead bird,” said Shay, also 8 years old.

“It wasn’t a beautiful, 65-degree day,” Crawford said. “It was sunny and cool. Just put on the appropriate clothing. We live in Western New York, and we know what the weather’s going to be. I think that, maybe, 40-50 years ago, there was more public awareness out there about litter. There were a lot of different programs. ‘Give a hoot. Don’t pollute.’ There were catch phrases that were used. Maybe that’s what we need to do. Continue to encourage and educate the kids about the proper way to dispose of their trash.

“I have to commend all those groups and neighborhoods that came out to participate and make a difference. It’s the little things that add up and make a difference every day. We thank Casella for the donation of the 30-yard dumpster. They’re an active partner with us every year. …

“I think what was most pleasing was the energy that the adults and the kids had out there, as they participated in the cleanup. There was a lot of good community involvement by a lot of different organizations on Grand Island. It bodes well that we have that many organizations to go out and clean up our Island.”

Crawford asked individuals and businesses to make outdoor cleanup part of their regular routine.

“I think it’s a personal responsibility just to pick it up, whether it's in your yard or when you’re walking your dog. It’s good for the community,” he said.

As for continued cleanup, there are some issues, Crawford explained.

“In some highly trafficked areas with the wind, there are those accidental spills that occur, and garbage does fly everywhere,” he said. However, the community “looks great for the next two weeks after the cleanup. We’ve got to find a way to better police the high trafficked areas that collect garbage.”

The Chamber of Commerce Facebook post offered “Extra special shout outs to the Rotary, Fresenius Kabi, BSA Troop 630, GI Kiwanis, GI Vikings 8U, GI Vikings 18U and all the other groups who organized to participate. But especially, the Rotary & Fresenius Kabi, who are regular participants, and each brought very large teams and covered quite a bit of ground!  THANK YOU EVERYONE & we hope to see an even larger community participation next year!”

Members of the 8U Grand Island Viking softball team hunt for trash on a stretch of Grand Island Boulevard.

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