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Kids learn civic pride at Clean Streets event in Bay Shore, Brentwood, Central Islip

Casandra Carreon, 18, from the Brentwood Spanish Honor

Casandra Carreon, 18, from the Brentwood Spanish Honor Society, helps clean up trash with other volunteers at the skate park on Suffolk Avenue during the 2015 Clean Streets Project and Community Celebration on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

More than 500 volunteers -- ages 3 to 83 -- were dispatched to 50 locations across Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore Saturday as part of the fifth annual Clean Streets Project aimed at beautifying neighborhoods.

Since the cleanup effort began in 2010, about 20 tons of garbage has been collected, Clean Streets Committee co-chair Marcos Maldonado said.

Saturday's goal was 5 tons, he said.

By noon, nearly 100 bags of trash -- filled with bottles, clothes, sneakers, empty potato-chip bags and even a television -- lined a side of Suffolk Avenue as about 20 Brentwood Girl Scouts finished cleaning up a makeshift skate park.

Wendy Gallardo, 12, a sixth-grader at North Middle School in Brentwood, said the skatepark was "ugly and dirty" before their efforts made it "clean and nice."

"It felt good to clean it up because we're helping the environment, and I hope people will see us doing this and not leave their garbage everywhere," Gallardo said. "You wouldn't want to live or play in an ugly, unsafe environment, would you?"

Daniel McDaniels, 27, of Brentwood, and Miah Burns, 35, of Selden, were skating in the park dubbed the "Brentwood Spot" when the busload of girls showed up. They decided to help.

"We usually do a spring cleanup here, but it's hard enough to get a bunch of skaters to do it," McDaniels said. "To see little kids doing it, it was inspiring. It's a blessing they came here."

Rocquelle Goode, a service coordinator for the Brentwood Girl Scouts, said area parks need to be cleaned up since Roberto Clemente Park, Brentwood's largest town-owned park, has been closed for more than a year due to the illegal dumping of an estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated debris. Islip Town is expected to begin cleanup at the park in June, but the opening date has not yet been determined.

"We don't have access to nice parks," Goode said. "My daughter used to roll down the hills [at Clemente], I used to jog there. Now, we have to drive to Belmont [Lake State Park] in Babylon to enjoy someplace nice."

Other organizations, including Youth Enrichment Services, PSEG Long Island, the Brentwood and Salvadoran-American chambers of commerce and Applebee's of Brentwood, participated in and sponsored the event.

Maldonado said the idea for the event began when he and co-chair Michael Ramos grew "sick and tired" of seeing the children of Brentwood -- where they both reside -- playing in the streets filled with graffiti and trash.

"What these children and adults are learning is the power of coalition, doing something together to make a difference," Maldonado said.

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