EAST HANOVER, NJ - Aside from food and supply collections during the COVID-19 crisis, other individuals are making efforts to make sure their community clean.

These individuals include 17-year-old Hanover Park High School juniors Brian Mullen, Ashley Alfano, Christopher Bartlett and Dominic Rizzolo, who have been spending their quarantine time picking up trash in public parking lots.

“We got the idea on a group chat when we kept hearing people were discarding their gloves,” said Bartlett. “We have a lot of shops and people from other areas come here to shop. We wanted to help keep our town clean.”

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Over the course of just two days, the quartet of friends have been picking up discarded gloves and masks in five large parking lots in East Hanover. As they are careful, wearing protective face shields and gloves, and armed with hand sanitizer, the four friends reflect on their lives as everyone continues to practice social distancing.

“We miss the communication and seeing our teachers and friends,” said Ashley Alfano.

With social distancing cancelling all public events and closing schools, the Hanover Park juniors, who have been friends since kindergarten, have found it hard living under the lockdown.

“It's hard, especially for us,” said Dominic Rizzolo. “We are all athletes and we miss playing our sports, our teams and our coaches.”

Yet, despite the bitter quarantine, all four students found inspiration in their teachers and family to give back to their community.

“Our middle school gifted and talented teacher, Mrs. Kerouac, used to have us do a lot of environmental cleanups,” said Brian Mullen. “Plus, all of our parents are very active in the community. So we were raised to be involved and be active. Our parents have instilled in us the need to give back to our town.”

And this need has given the four juniors a task to help combat the difficulties imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s such a great feeling of helping in some small way,” said Bartlett. “We want to continue our effort to keep East Hanover beautiful!”