EDISON, NJ – The Tzu Chi Foundation of Central New Jersey is the recipient of the N.J. Clean Communities Council’s (NJCCC) 2018 “Volunteerism Award” for its “outstanding” 16-year commitment to a cleaner and healthier Edison. 

Volunteers from Tzu Chi’s Edison Chapter have held monthly cleanups at man-made Lake Papaianni, in a 15-acre municipal park near the Edison Town Hall, since 2009. Soon after “adopting” that site, Tzu Chi began  regular cleanups at historic Oak Tree Pond, site of a 1777 Revolutionary War skirmish.

“Tzu Chi’s commitment to our town actually began in 2002,” said Edison Health Director Jay Elliot, explaining that members of the Buddhist service organization, based in Cedar Grove, first volunteered in 2002 to assist at Edison’s Family Day and its Fall Festival.

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Its volunteers – who range from senior citizens to youngsters – soon began to pitch in at town’s Earth Day celebrations, participate in roadside and park cleanups, and now host a booth each weekend at the Edison Farmers Market to promote healthy nutrition.

“Tzu Chi’s sincere concern for the environment and its long-term dedication to improve Edison’s quality-of-life is outstanding. We applaud their volunteer spirit and their hard work,” said NJCCC Executive Director Sandy Huber.

“Their enthusiasm is an inspiration to others,” said Elliot, noting Tzu Chi helped marshal volunteers from J.P. Stevens High School, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the Lions Club and Rutgers University to join their cleanups. 

Their efforts have helped remove aluminum cans, glass bottles, candy wrappers, plastics, cigarette butts and, occasionally larger items like tires and bicycles that get dumped on public properties or roadsides, said Elliot, who is also the local clean communities coordinator.  

“Tzu Chi’s volunteers are terrific role models, raising community awareness about litter abatement, recycling and the effect climate change has on our environment,” Elliot said. “I really wish their motto: ‘No trash left behind’ would become everyone’s motto.”

Learn more about Tzu Chi of Central New Jersey at www.tzuchi.us/blog/tag/new-jerseyand about the NJCCC at www.njclean.org.