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February 18, 2013

Hartwick students look to clean up Oneonta

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — If downtown Oneonta neighborhood streets looked a little cleaner Sunday, thank some Hartwick College students.

The Hartwick College Student Senate has organized “Cleaning Up Oneonta” to “help keep the Oneonta community a clean and happy place to live,’’ a media release said. The initiative started Sunday and will focus on cleaning up the streets and yards of local Oneonta residents living between Spruce and Chestnut streets and between West and Maple streets.

On Sunday’s first venture, students wearing Hartwick gear carried garbage bags and picked up trash from weekend activities. The project dually promoted the college and provided community service, students said Sunday.

“Community is very important to everyone at Hartwick,’’ said Mark Smith, 22, a senior political science major from Binghamton.

“We want to do our part,’’ Student Senate President Smith said. “We thought this was a good opportunity to give back.’’

On Sundays this semester, groups of students will start at 9 a.m. to continue the mission of clearing the areas of trash left during the weekend. The idea of the early start is to have cleaner streets and yards by the time residents open their doors Sunday, students said.

About 40 students turned out Sunday for the first cleanup, and about 10 shared some thoughts afterward.

Students met in Yager Hall on campus, then walked or drove downtown. They collected four bags of garbage and four bags of recyclables, they said, and they were done in about an hour.

The quantity of trash was surprising and gave insight into the extent of litter left Friday and Saturday nights, students said. Besides cups and bottles, they found some unexpected trash — a remote, a chair cushion and a shoe.

The project started at the suggestion of college President Margaret L. Drugovich, students said, and has the support of the student Community Involvement and Volunteerism office on campus and assistance from the facilities department.

Ed Newman, 20, a sophomore nursing major from Carmel, said students were aware about problems in Center City last fall because of reports in Hilltops, the campus newspaper.

Katie Pennings, Student Senate vice president and organizer of the cleanup, said the project also gives students opportunities to bond in an activity unrelated to the mission of the participating club or organization. On Sunday, members of the Student Senate and friends they invited volunteered for the first cleanup.

“The Student Senate is very excited for the new project to kick off,” Pennings, 20, a junior from Middletown majoring in music education, said in the release. Students have volunteered to participate in this project to help keep the community a place where everyone wants to live, and an invitation is extended to anyone who would like to join the effort.

The Main Street downtown area hasn’t been scheduled because the focus is on residential neighborhoods near the campus, she said, and this semester there won’t be enough students to cover both areas.

For more information about Cleaning Up Oneonta, contact Pennings at penningsk@hartwick.edu.