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Community leaders and volunteers join forces for downtown Reading cleanup

Easter and early spring are synonymous with rebirth and renewal. On Saturday morning in downtown Reading, an army of volunteers wearing fluorescent safety vests fanned out from Sixth and Penn streets, sprucing up block after block.

City Mayor Eddie Morán and State Rep. Manny Guzman led the community cleanup event.

With sparse vehicular and pedestrian traffic the day before Easter, and the temperature in the mid-40s with bright sunshine, conditions could not have been much better for the activities including picking up litter, sweeping and repainting curbs.

Reading Clean City coordinator Ryan Bradley hands out supplies during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup Event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading Clean City coordinator Ryan Bradley hands out supplies during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup Event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Several dozen people, including volunteers from the Reading School District and Reading Hospital, came out for the event, as did some families. Members of the city administration, including new police Chief Elias Vazquez, pitched in. City Councilwoman Melissa Ventura also took part.

Volunteers were issued vests, gloves and trash pickers at the outset of the event, which went from 9 a.m. to noon and focused on Penn, Court and Cherry streets.

The purpose of the cleanup was to bring together community members, local leaders, and volunteers to brighten the downtown to create a more vibrant and welcoming environment for residents and visitors, the mayor said in welcoming and thanking the volunteers for coming.

Ultimately, he said, it’s about taking pride in the community.

“It’s about encouraging others to follow these footsteps,” Moran said. “It’s about getting together, because together we can do more.”

Guzman used a straw broom to sweep curbs in the 600 block of Penn Street before they were given a fresh coat of yellow paint by members of the Reading High School Junior ROTC.

The representative said he and the mayor wanted to put action behind their words about promoting a clean, green and safe community.

Personnel from the city public works department and Reading Area Water Authority were there to support the volunteers.

Reading High Junior ROTC members clean out a planter at Sixth and Penn streets during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading High Junior ROTC members clean out a planter at Sixth and Penn streets during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)
Quinn Gibson, 17, a member of the Reading High Junior ROTC, paints a curb in the 600 block of Penn Street during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Quinn Gibson, 17, a member of the Reading High Junior ROTC, paints a curb in the 600 block of Penn Street during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

While some of their older peers were painting curbs, ROTC members Jaslene Lebron and Yoly Morales, both 15, were among a group using trash pickers to remove litter including cigarette butts from large planters on the sidewalks on Penn at Sixth Street.

They said it felt good to be outdoors on a Saturday morning donating their time to make a difference in their city.

Just around the corner, Ejay Velez, 23, of Reading removed empty cigarette packs and empty bottles from a grassy area near Sixth and Cherry streets.

Ejay Velez of Reading cleans up at Sixth and Cherry streets during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup Event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Ejay Velez of Reading cleans up at Sixth and Cherry streets during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup Event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

“I do outreach for the homeless so getting my hands dirty is nothing new,” she said.

Cameron, 6, and Hudson, 5, Martin, sons of Kevin and Kendra Martin, pick up debris in the first block of South Sixth Street during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Cameron, 6, and Hudson, 5, Martin, sons of Kevin and Kendra Martin, pick up debris in the first block of South Sixth Street during the Downtown Reading Community Cleanup event on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Kevin and Kendra Martin of Reading were assisted by their three oldest children: Cameron, 6, Hudson, 5, and Bennett, 3. Their youngest, Winston, 1, went along as well—in a baby stroller.


Source: Berkshire mont

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