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Neighborhood Cleanup Sunday

October 26, 2013

by Jose Romero

Students from the University of Albany will do their part Sunday to clean up the neighborhood they call home for the better part of the year when they pick up candy wrappers, empty soda bottles and the leftover food containers that sometimes litter the city streets.

“The event brings over 200 participants,” said Todd Hunsinger, a member of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association.

Litter in the streets of the Pine hills

Litter in the streets of the Pine hills

Students, led by the UAlbany Student Association will join community volunteers and members of the association during the three-hour event beginning at noon. The program occurs twice a year in the neighborhood.

“We provide breakfast for volunteers and then we divide off into different groups… each group is given a map of the area they will cover,” said Rose Avellino, director of the UAlbany Student Association. Volunteers will meet for breakfast at Ridgefield Park and will then split off into smaller groups to cover different parts of the neighborhood.

Avellino is a junior public policy major at UAlbany and has been a big part of organizing the cleanup, which will serve as the UAlbany association’s day of service.

Students and community volunteers are scheduled to meet at the park come rain or shine. A Facebook event, created by students at UAlbany, shows 72 confirmed attendees.

“Over 100 students participated last time, we’re hoping that some more will come out this year,” said Avellino.

The cleanup program emphasizes the positive impact that UAlbany students have on the Pine Hills community and is also part of a yearlong partnership between the students at UAlbany and the neighborhood association.

“Aside from this event, we also have the Midtown Neighborhood Watch… students and neighbors walk to patrol the neighborhood and to try and keep it safe,” said Thomas Gebhardt of the UAlbany police department.

He maintains the “Living Off Campus” page on the UAlbany website which offers everything from safety tips to details about local events and provides a list of ways for the students of the college to get involved in their local communities. Gebhardt has 20 years of experience in off-campus affairs and community relations. He is also a liaison for the college as well as the neighborhood association.

“I go to meetings every month and I attend when others can’t… I’m the constant in all of this,” he said.

Gebhardt, along with several other active community members, assists with many areas of community and student relations. Events such as the cleanup and the Midtown Neighborhood Watch are part of a larger relationship between the students, community members and local business owners.

“We’re all partners, working together,” Gebhardt said. -30-


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