PATERSON, NJ- Residents from across Paterson representing a sizable sample of schools and churches, community groups and city employees, joined together Saturday for a massive cleanup of Westside Park.

By noon more than 400 volunteers had collected over 300 bags of leaves, branches and other debris.

 The effort, according to Paterson’s Clean Communities Coordinator Diane Polifronio, is all about giving resident more reason to take pride in their community.

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Asked why it was important to make the clean up a family effort Polifronio said that “kids learn from their parents.” This lesson, she suggested, helps her office’s efforts that include litter abatement, graffiti removal and the overall improvement of the quality of live for Paterson residents.

Among the volunteers joining today’s clean up were Ayanna Davis and Sit’neya Roberson, members of Paterson Girl Scout Troop 95385. More eager to get to back to work than to answer questions both declared their love for Paterson and their desire to keep it clean.

Concerned about the well being of their youngest neighbors, Davis suggested a sense of obligation to keep her neighborhood litter free because “if it’s not clean babies get sick.”

“Girl Scouts are here to clean the world,” Roberson declared proudly.

Their efforts were well recognized later in the day as they departed with the event's Bronze Cleaning Award.

It wasn’t all hard work at Westside Park as young children and adults alike participated in a paint workshop led by local artist Chris Fabor Muhammad. Muhammad, an art teacher at School 5 whose talent has inspired many murals throughout Paterson, lent his efforts to today’s event to help make it “grander.”

“Humanities awaken the soul and give self expression,” Muhammad said while keeping a close eye on his students. Art, he continued, “teaches life skills like discipline and problem solving.”

Larry Hilton, playfully introducing himself as “Handsome Larry” said that he attended today’s event because it was an “opportunity to give back on a much larger scale.” Hilton, who could later be heard on the microphone leading children in chants of “I love this city”, would add that efforts like these are important not only because of the work being done, but also because they “give kids something positive to do.”

Rightfully proud of the work they had accomplished volunteers enjoyed lunch as Gilman Choudhury, District Wide Community Outreach & Special Projects Coordinator for Paterson Public Schools, reminded them that Paterson is “our city, and we have to take of it.”