Thousands of volunteers will gather at hundreds of local sites Saturday to pick up litter, remove graffiti, create gardens and take other steps to beautify neighborhoods.
Buffalo is celebrating its 18th year of participation in the Great American Cleanup by expanding the program beyond the one-day blitz. Flanked by block club leaders and other community activists at a news conference on the steps of City Hall today, Mayor Byron W. Brown said this year's effort will span the month of May.
With the help of dedicated volunteers, Buffalo can become one of the cleanest mid-sized cities in the nation, the mayor told the crowd.
About 2,500 volunteers and 80 block clubs are participating in the city cleanup, but the president of a not-for-profit group called Keep Western New York Beautiful said thousands more will perform cleanup chores in other Erie County communities. James Pavel said residents can make a profound and immediate difference in the appearance of their neighborhoods.
"If you want to see a perfect example of what volunteers can do for the community, look across the street," said Pavel, pointing at Niagara Square where colorful flowers have been planted in well-kept beds.
The commitment and enthusiasm of cleanup participants is impressive, coordinators said. Linda J. Freidenberg, president of the Board of Block Clubs of Buffalo and Erie County, noted that the sweat equity they donate can produce long-term gains.
"We want people to move back to the City of Buffalo," she said.
City residents who want to participate in the cleanup should call Buffalo's Call and Resolution Center at 311. People outside the city can call 829-2133, ext 341.
"We'll help you with supplies," said Pavel. "Sometimes we even have tools to lend."
One focus this year will involve beautifying local parks and recreation areas. Organizers said that while it's important to clean up streets, sidewalks and vacant lots, it's also critical to spruce up spots that are frequented by children.
"Our kids deserve clean, safe playgrounds," said Pavel.