Christian Mendoza found beer bottles, plastic, credit cards and motor parts. Melissa Bucciarelli found trash emblazoned with Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks logos, a shirt, and a lot of plastic. The shopping cart and the chair stayed put, but the Norwalk Community College students were pleased. "I filled my bag, I'm so proud of myself," Bucciarelli said. "It doesn't look like a lot, but every little bit helps."
Members of the Alpha Iota Nu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, they were participating in the honor society's annual Norwalk River cleanup Saturday off Cross Street. Diane Lauricella, an environmental consultant, said it was the ninth year she has led the river pickup in partnership with the League of Women Voters. "It teaches the students a little bit about how daily life can affect our rivers and waterways, but also the water supply to shellfish," she said. The city provides grabbers, gloves and trash bags; the group leaves the trash bags by the road for the city to pick up.
Olga Anastos, president of the chapter, said the students have many community service activities, including food drives, literacy workshops and participation in Relay for Life and walks to benefit AIDS and Cancer research.
Lauricella said visiting the same spot has been interesting since flooding has rerouted the water's path. The site was selected by a student, Michelle Brinck, because shoppers at the old Pathmark store would throw their trash over the fence. Things improved when the supermarket was razed and Avalon at Norwalk was built, although Lauricella said construction debris was initially a problem.
She hopes the work will have unseen benefits. "We do have students, young and old, from all over the area," she said. "Some are visiting from foreign countries. The League of Women Voters hopes they will take that knowledge to their communities and urge people not to litter, not to throw cigarette butts down on the ground, not to dump oil down the storm drains."
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