A group of volunteers gathered just outside of Hempstead Village Hall on Sunday with one goal in mind: cleaning the streets.
Volunteers with the International WeLoveU Foundation spent the day cleaning littered streets as a selfless act of kindness. The volunteers were tasked with picking up any trash on Main Street, Fulton Avenue and Jackson Street, said Itxia Anaya, an event representative who organized the cleanup.
WeLoveU partnered with village officials for the event. The village provided cleaning supplies and suggested the volunteers focus on Main, Fulton and Jackson because those are some of Hempstead’s most cluttered roadways, Anaya said.
By day’s end, they had filled 54 large bags with garbage.
More than 50 people from Queens and Long Island volunteered Sunday. Some of them said they enjoyed spending their free time helping others.
Marcus Casseus, 42, of Brentwood, stood near the corner of Fulton Avenue and Washington Street plucking trash off the sidewalk.
“It’s great to be part of an international organization that’s doing great things,” said Casseus, who has been volunteering with the foundation for six months. “When you’re around so many other people who are happy with just helping other people, it makes the world a better place.”
Deymarie Torres, 24, of Queens, said her friend told her about the event and she decided to join.
“I like to clean up the environment,” she said. “It just feels good to help other people.”
Sunday marked Torres’ second time volunteering for the foundation. Last month, she helped clean streets near Long Island City, she said.
“It’s my day off today, but I’d rather be out here being productive instead of laying on my couch and just thinking about myself,” Torres said.
As the volunteers walked the streets, passers-by stopped them and asked what organization was responsible for the cleanup. The volunteers told them about WeLoveU.
The foundation, created by South Korean woman Zahng Gil-Jah, launched in 2001. The nonprofit seeks to help people around the world by organizing blood drives, cleanup events, disaster relief efforts and more. The group has more than 150,000 volunteers, according to its website, and the East Coast chapter of the operation is housed in Oradell, New Jersey.
Anaya said the foundation is organizing more events for later this year to complement Sunday’s effort.