Many Hands Make Light Work At ‘Clean Sweep’

OSWEGO, NY – April 17 was the fifth annual New York State Canal “Clean Sweep.”

Because our city is located on Lake Ontario and the Oswego River, which is part of the NYS Canal system, there is a lot of shoreline within the city limits that needs an annual spring cleanup.

Volunteers from several of SUNY Oswego's Greek organizations display the fruits of their labors after "Clean Sweep" 2010.
Volunteers from several of SUNY Oswego's Greek organizations display the fruits of their labors after "Clean Sweep" 2010.

Members of the Campus/City Relations Committee, the organizers for this annual event in Oswego, needed volunteers to accomplish their goal.

With more than 170 volunteers showing up this year, and perhaps the cold winds, leaving little desire to take a break from the task at hand, all sections were cleaned in a two-hour time period.

Indeed, the old adage, “Many hands make light work,” proved to be the formula to success.

This year, the Campus/City Relations Committee designated 10 sections that are each approximately one half mile in length and non-residential to be canvassed for litter and refuse blown ashore or discarded by humans.

There were many hours of preparation for the event, but the weather factor can not be controlled.

With predictions of 70% chance of rain, temperatures in the 40s and windy conditions, the committee decided to notify pre-registered teams: “It’s a go, Oswego! Dress for the weather!”

The gamble was whether teams could efficiently canvas their assigned areas during a two-hour period without getting soaked or blown into the water.

The gamble paid off as unexpected sunshine appeared and the teams returned triumphantly with wind blown hair and stories about their experiences.

Due to the Oswego winds all fall, winter and spring, many plastic shopping bags were retrieved from trees, cigarette butts were found especially on sidewalks, in parking lots and along the roadways.

Refuse along the shoreline included construction materials, a tire rim, tires without treads, a dead squirrel (not picked up), containers from fast foods, and a lot of fish line and a discarded humidifier.

This year there were fewer plastic and glass beverage bottles which are probably collected by residents for bottle returns.

One student said she found a coaster with the motto: “DRINK AND DRIVE DON’T MIX.”

She said she saved it to put in her car as a constant reminder for herself and her friends.

The majority of the volunteers this year were SUNY students, including 11 sororities and fraternities and some of them had several teams.

One of the sororities had worked on another cleanup project earlier in the morning, when it was raining, and then they came to participate in “Clean Sweep.”

In addition to the wonderful response from the Greek organizations, there were teams of  neighbors, businesses, churches, community service groups, Sea Cadets, and elected government officials.

One young man came and asked to join a team to earn credit for community service toward his Eagle Scout badge.

Another SUNY student joined a team so she could write a paper for credit about this event on community volunteerism.

A local landlord with a trash truck volunteered to pick up all the trash bags and refuse to weigh at the county transfer station.

Our special thank you list is lengthy, but without their support and contributions, this event would not have been as effective:

  • City of Oswego – funds and services of several employees
  • SUNY Oswego – services of Student Government
  • Constellation Energy – 150 pairs of leather gloves
  • Eagle Beverage – bottled water
  • Cam’s – pizzas
  • Valti Graphic – T-shirts
  • Lee Walker – trash pickup
  • Brooke Sterio – new “Clean Sweep” logo

The City of Oswego “Clean Sweep” is not yet done!

The Oswego City Fire Department Dive Team has volunteered again this year to do their dive to collect refuse in the month of May when the water temperature is more tolerable.

The CCRC volunteers hope you will be a volunteer next year to help make your city a better place to live.

1 Comment

  1. Can’t help but mention that the Canal Clean Sweep is a statewide event coordinated by Parks & Trails New York (www.ptny.org) in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation.

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