BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Residents and organizations gathered Saturday morning to clean up public areas in Berkeley Heights for the Berkeley Heights Clean Communities Clean-Up Day sponsored by the Suburban Chamber of Commerce.

In orange shirts, volunteers met outside of the municipal building to be assigned their territory to pick-up. "We have a bigger crowd this year, over 290 volunteers," said Joe Steiner of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce. "We are cleaning everything we can -- including parts of the Watchung Reservation and Runnells Hospital." 

Various groups went to sites including public areas on and around Springfield Ave., Town Hall, the Library, Snyder Avenue, Thomas P. Hughes, Mountain Park and Woodruff Elementary Schools, Columbia Middle School and park, Governor Livingston High School, Seeleys Pond, Runnells Hospital and along the Passaic River.

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"We've been doing this since 1986," said Steiner. "This is the second year we are working with the Clean Ocean Program, because the tributaries do lead right to the ocean - it is an important thing to do."

New Jersey Clean Communities is a statewide, comprehensive, litter-abatement program created by the passage of the Clean Communities Act in 1986. Their mission is to reduce litter on public places, promote the volunteer cleanup of public lands and sustain a reduction in litter through education.

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Everybody and anybody is allowed to volunteer, Steiner said. Some of the groups that came to lend a hand cleaning up include the GL football team, Boys and Girls Scouts, Cub Scouts, Rescue Squad volunteers, GL’s Interact Club, Rotary Club, Our House residents as well as many others.

Each volunteer raises $10 towards the charity or organization of their choice, so it serves as a fundraiser for the over 25 organizations that participated.

The Gov. Livingston Interact Club had 40 volunteers help to clean-up along Snyder Avenue. In addition to participating in this clean-up, the service based club plans to participate in Walk for Wishes in October and they volunteer regularly at Home for Good Dogs said club leader Alyssa Lopes.

The volunteers bag the garbage into categories using a different type of bags for recycling and garbage - then they transport it back to the dumpsters. Each group filled out a collective form to identify what was picked up.  

New this year was an inflatable sports center the kids could enjoy after their morning of volunteering. Hot dogs were served by the Chamber with help from members of the Rotary Club.