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Students celebrate Earth Day's meaning with cleanup in Oakdale

Taking part in the Great American Cleanup movement,

Taking part in the Great American Cleanup movement, Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Islip Career Center student Sarah Owen, 18, of East Northport, helped clean up the Locust Avenue Town Ballfield in Oakdale in celebration of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (Credit: Brittany Wait)

Sarah Owen put on her plastic gloves and grabbed a rake and trash bag before heading to the Locust Avenue Town Ballfield in Oakdale Tuesday to clean up litter.

“I can’t believe people would do this,” said Owen, 18, of East Northport, holding up Skittles and potato chip wrappers found on the field. “I love the environment. It’s our home and when I see cans and bottles on the ground, it makes me sad.”

Owen was among the 25 special-needs students from Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Islip Career Center that combed the site for trash as part of celebrating Earth Day.

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In two hours, students from the horticulture, facilities maintenance, supermarket warehouse and computer graphic arts programs volunteered with Keep Islip Clean, a nonprofit organization that promotes community beautification in Islip hamlets.

Nancy Cochran, executive director of KIC, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, said this is just one of hundreds of cleanups that will occur into May throughout Islip.

“This is a wonderful example of young people taking responsibility of cleaning their own park,” Cochran said. “And they’re making a significant dent because it is the most immediate way to help the environment. We can all reduce our carbon footprint, but by picking up litter you are here right now removing something harmful in your community.”

Cora Weule-Sparwasser, who teaches computer graphic arts at the school, used her camera to record her nine students cleaning up the ballfields — finding an old tire, toilet paper, candy wrappers and foam and plastic cups scattered about.

“Considering the park was relatively clean already, we still picked up trash to partially fill at least 10 bags,” said Weule-Sparwasser, 45, of Sayville. “I wanted my students to learn the importance of keeping their environment clean and they did and had fun doing it.”

One of her students, Michael Laffey, said he hated seeing litter scattered among the trees and fences, so he tried his best to pick up as much as he could.

“Without recycling, the world would be covered in garbage,” said Laffey, 18, of Coram. “When I see a bottle, I recycle it. I think people should take better care of their home.”

Tags: Oakdale , Earth , Day , trash , pickup , students , special , needs , towns

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