The Garbage Gatherers

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I’ve been a resident of the Hastings-Sunrise community for over a decade and have watched it change, for the better.

About four to five years ago, on those Saturday mornings I was able to rouse myself out of bed to run my errands before noon, I began to notice people wearing reflective vests wandering the streets, picking trash up off the sidewalks. I figured they must be either doing volunteer work or community service, but didn’t think any more of it.

Until I became a volunteer at the Hastings Sunrise Community Policing Centre (HSCPC), that is.

During my orientation meeting, I learned the truth behind the garbage gatherers: they are members of the community who come out, twice a month, to clean up the public areas (sidewalks and alleys).

Studies have shown that crime levels decrease when a neighbourhood is maintained. It is called

the Broken Window Theory. A study in the 1980s, by George Kelling, proved that petty crime in

New York subways was reduced simply when the graffiti was removed.

Further studies have shown the crimes rates drop and crime does not move to adjacent neighbourhoods. So the HSCPC has set up the Community Clean-up Program to help make the community a safer place.

It seemed like a great way to get involved in the HSCPC and fi t easily into my work schedule. My first time out, I realized that I was finally finding a way to make up for all the cigarette butts I

thoughtlessly discarded when I was a smoker. After two hours, I felt like I had given something back to the community I am happy to call mine.

But, it’s not just my community. Although volunteers organize and lead the program, all members of the community are welcome to help out. Clean-up dates are advertised on posters throughout the Hastings Sunrise area. You can simply drop by and give two hours of your time to help (and meet some great people).

If nothing else, think twice before dropping that gum or take-out coffee cup on the ground.

By Luella Iwasiuk

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