PATERSON, NJ - On a day when Mother Nature wasn’t even sure whether it wanted to be sunny or rainy, about 30 of Paterson youths were determined to help their community May 21.

Giving up the opportunity to sleep late on a Saturday morning, these teens woke up early to clean up Great Falls park area. Lead by the Paterson Youth Council (PYC), they started working at 9 am. And by the time they were done at 1 pm the park was almost pristine.

With gloved hands, students raked together piles of glass pieces, soda bottles, candy wrappers, and other trash. Using heavy-duty gloves, they scooped up big pieces of trash and placed into black garbage bags. Along with litter, they plucked dead weeds from the pathways, giving the area a well-tended look.

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The 30 teenagers split up into groups as they attacked different locations in Mary Ellen Kramer Park and along Hinchliffe Stadium. Together, the dedicated teens filled about 20 extra large garbage bags.

It was a team effort. Diego Huarachi and Sasha Polanco dropped weeds into a garbage bag held by Aida Silva. Fransheska Gomez picked up bottles from the ground. Anthony Felix carried filled garbage bags to the designated location. 

The equipment for the clean-up was provided by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) and DPW.

When asked how they feel about cleaning up, the youths replied, “We are a part of the community and this is a way for us to give back.”

 “I’m proud of all the young people that came out this morning,’’ said Marqweesha Guthrie, a youth council advisor. “They are really making a difference in our community, which makes me proud of Paterson.”

Gandhi stated that you must be the change you wish to see in the world. This group of youth seemed to be Gandhi’s words into action.

Editor's Note: Munni Salik is a member of the Paterson Youth Council and participated in the clean-up.