Thousands work to clean up streets, streams

Volunteers join O'Malley to clear away litter, debris

April 06, 2003|By Rebecca McClay | Rebecca McClay,SUN STAFF

Thousands of volunteers braved yesterday's chilly, wet weather to fill dump trucks with debris from littered neighborhoods throughout the city.

Wearing thick work gloves, residents and members of community organizations cleared wrappers, broken glass and abandoned kitchen appliances as part of Mayor Martin O'Malley's annual spring cleanup event, dubbed Super Spring Sweep Thing 4.

"This is ridiculous that anyone should have to live like this," O'Malley told the crowd of about 200 volunteers who rallied in the 1500 block of N. Bradford St. at 9 a.m. "As you can see from the scenery around us, we have a lot of work to do. All it requires is neighbors coming outside of their front doors and picking up."

O'Malley was surrounded by old tires, fast-food bags and hundreds of 40-ounce beer bottles. He faced a 6-foot mound of trash at the end of an alley about 30 yards away.

In addition to Super Spring Sweep Thing 4, the mayor's seventh seasonal cleanup event, volunteers also turned out yesterday to remove litter from waterways in the region as part of Project Clean Stream.

"It's a monstrous, monstrous challenge," said Barbara Hopkins, spokeswoman for the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, which had 15 members volunteer for the mayor's event. In all, more than 300 community associations took part, said Raquel Guillory, O'Malley's press secretary.

More than 5,000 individual volunteers had signed on for the event, O'Malley said.

"It's been a great turnout," Hopkins said. HEBCAC had rescheduled its eighth annual Earth Day cleanup, planned for April 15, to coincide with the project.

About four miles away from the block being cleaned on North Bradford Street, 35 pupils from Gilman and Garrison Forrest middle schools pulled tiny wrappers from a stream bank in Wyman Park off Beech Avenue in Hampden.

"It's like someone overthrew a trash can," said Mary Jo Wiesse of Sykesville, a parent volunteer at Gilman who was picking up plastic spoons and paper plates with two sixth-graders. "You can see it's clean where everybody goes. But here there's trash everywhere."

The Wyman Park cleanup effort was part of Project Clean Stream, organized by the Irvine Nature Center in Stevenson.

Project Clean Stream drew about 1,000 volunteers at 85 watershed sites in the city and in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Cecil counties, organizers said.

The pupils in wet shirts and muddy pants at Wyman Park said they were glad to work toward the 20 community service hours that their schools require.

From 9 a.m. to noon, they removed about a dozen bags of trash, a shopping cart and a car motor from the stream.

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