NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Neighborhoods and parks throughout the town were invaded by volunteers decked out in bright green and yellow t-shirts and holding plastic bags. More than a hundred participants from the Girl Scouts, Recreation, schools and churches cleared litter, cleaned up parks and planted public gardens as part of the annual Clean Community Day.
The annual event, sponsored by the North Plainfield Forum and funded by a state Clean Communities Grant, picked up more than three hundred bags of litter from public spaces and roadsides.
“This is our ninth year cleaning the community,” said former Mayor Janice Allen. “It’s grown every year, and really shows how much people care about their home town.”
Allen also serves as the chair of the North Plainfield Forum, an organization founded by local clergy while she was Mayor to get churches more involved in the community. Retiring Superintendent Marilyn Birnbaum represented the schools since its inception, and Allen has represented the town.
Volunteers arrived at the Vermeule Community Center around 9 a.m., given neon safety t-shirts and garbage bags and were assigned on of fifteen locations around town. They then dispersed in groups of as few as two and as many as fifteen and proceeded to clean the town.
Among the volunteers were nine high school students from the Interact Club, a service organization affiliated with the Plainfield and North Plainfield Rotary. The Interact Club was assigned Wilson Avenue by the high school, and also took on the school property along the street.
“I like to get out and help the community,” sad Lena Zhu, a sophomore member of Interact. “When things need work we should all get together to clean it up.”
A half dozen Girl Scout troops sent 60 girls and a dozen troops from Daisies to Cadettes. Last year the town’s Girl Scouts were on an outing on Clean Community Day, and were unable to participate.
“We’re so happy to have them here,” said Allen, whose granddaughter Julia is in Troop 65255 and grandson Johnny is a Cub Scout who both helped clean Green Acres Park. “Every generation of North Plainfield is represented.”
Also cleaning Green Acres Park was Mark Kruszczynski and his four children who were representing Joshua’s Closet, a non-profit that accepts clothing donations to sell and raise funds for cancer research.
The North Plainfield Library was cleaned up by Girl Scout Troops 937 and 133, who raked the garden beds and picked up litter. Also taking advantage of the day were the “Soil Sisters,” an unofficial group of volunteers who have maintained the gardens around the library for the past four years.
“We take care of the area around the WWII Memorial out of respect to the soldiers,” said Marielle Ambis, who despite moving from North to South Plainfield in March continues to volunteer at the library. The group has a coin collection in the Library and spends their own money to buy seeds to germinate in their homes over the winter, then plants them in the spring and summer.
After three hours of cleanup the volunteers came back to Vermeule to have a traditional barbecue lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, and all the kids received commemorative bags and certificates recognizing the service hours they performed.