LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston residents reported to duty on Sunday to collect litter in eight locations throughout town for the third annual Pick it Up! Livingston event, an Earth Day initiative that began in 2016. Donning safety vests and gloves, the volunteers set out with trash bags to find and remove any trash in their designated areas.
The town-wide cleanup event, organized by Shawn Klein, Barbara Scarpa Pinkham, Diana Lyell and Lauren Shor, had more than 200 people in attendance this year—many of whom were children who accompanied their parents.
Cleanup locations included Northfield Avenue’s Kiwanis entrance, Laurel Avenue near Prospect Park, Foxcroft Drive at Heritage Middle School, South Livingston Avenue across from St. Philomena’s Church, Beaufort Avenue, Shrewsbury Drive near East Hills Park, the Livingston Senior and Community Center at 204 Hillside Avenue and JFK Parkway from Hobart Gap Road to South Orange Avenue.
Many of the residents who signed up felt the event was the perfect occasion to teach their children about volunteerism and how to be good citizens.
Amy Roter, a former Livingston High School English teacher, brought her two young sons to help clean up at Heritage Middle School. Ari, a second grader, and Jonah, a fifth grader, worked hard locating and collecting stray trash.
“It’s a great volunteer opportunity for little kids,” said Roter. “Not all volunteer events are as easy for children to participate in. My sons are competing to see who can pick up the most litter."
Councilman Shawn Klein, who helped conceive the Pick It Up! initiative three years ago, said that “many people drive down the road and see trash and it bothers them,” adding that many even consider pulling over and picking it up. However, more often than not, those people decide against it, he said.
“They feel like it will simply not make much of a difference,” said Klein. “But when you have hundreds of people all working together, you know it matters. That is what makes an event like Pick It Up, Livingston! so satisfying, and that is why the entire town council has supported this event enthusiastically.”
In 2016, Klein asked “some of the real ‘do-ers’” in Livingston to help organize and promote an event. For the third consecutive year, the event has hit the 200 people mark.
“I would estimate about 230 this year in eight teams in eight different areas of town doing the tough but extremely satisfying work of picking up all the litter we could find,” said Klein.
In addition to the individual volunteers, there were also several organizations involved, such as members of the Heritage Middle School Builder’s Club, who picked up litter at their school; members of Sanskriti of New Jersey, who cleaned up in the Beaufort location; and local Girl Scouts, who picked up debris at the Laurel Avenue location.
Despite rain in the forecast, Mother Nature cooperated to help contribute to the event’s success. Volunteers enjoyed meeting each other and working to ensure that litter doesn’t mar the beauty of the town.
Klein, a Livingston native, praised the participants, the team leaders and members of the police department with a special mention of Chief Gary Marshuetz and Captain John Drumm.
“What was great this year, speaking for myself, is that even though we are three years in, almost my entire team, which was made up of neighbors and families who did not know each other, were first-time participants,” said Klein. “Hundreds of bags of garbage were filled and placed on the roadside for our terrific DPW to come and pick up.
“This is what makes Livingston great: we have a corps of the best volunteers because people love this place.”