By Alexandra Moyen
MIDDLE VILLAGE — On August 19, Kids Care Crew NYC (KCCNYC) took the initiative to show what taking care of a community looks like and cleaned Metropolitan Avenue.
KCCNYC is a new organization started by the mothers of St. Margaret Catholic Academy students who wish to lead by example and make community service a big part of their children’s lives. Metropolitan Ave. wasn’t the only area in NYC that had trash piling up. On August 10, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was covered in liquor bottles, food scraps, bags, bedsheets, and plastic cups after a party of 2,000 happened the night before.
“These streets shouldn’t look like this, they should look clean, they should look good and nobody should really litter so I think it would be really nice if we could clean up the streets and it would be better than it is right now,” said Chloe Miranda, a fourth-grader at St. Margaret Catholic Academy, Middle Village.
Before the students began their cleaning, they were visited by Queens Councilman Bob Holden and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who wanted to offer the kids some kind words of encouragement.
“This is what community is about,” Adams said. “Parents telling their kids, every day, ‘How do we do acts of kindness?’ Looking at these budget cuts and instead of saying ‘Woe is me,’ saying ‘Why not me? Why don’t I clean up on my block?’ ”
In June, the city cut $106 million from the Sanitation Department budget, in turn reducing pickup for public garbage cans by 60 percent. In addition, street cleaning has been reduced to once a week on each side of the street, after being suspended for three months, and curbside pickups of compost have been suspended for the entire budget year.
Holden knows all about what an unkempt community can look like. He told the students that during the ’70s and ’80s there was trash all over the cities.
“You couldn’t go on the subway without graffiti everywhere,” Holden said. “We’re getting back to that, and it’s unfortunate, so our young people are now stepping up and saying we’re going to help out.”
During the 1970s and 1980s, Manhattan was perceived to be at its peak of crime and uncleanliness, with multiple events having played a part. The garbage strike of 1986 led to dirty streets, with rat-infested trash strewn throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
People began, as a form of expression, putting graffiti on buildings and subway cars. Graffiti became what many perceived as a petty crime that leads to bigger crimes, adding to the decay of New York. By the early ’80s over 250 felonies were being committed on the subway every week.
Although New York has since cleaned up its act, many feel it is moving backward, leaving the younger generation and volunteer workers to pick up the slack.
“The people who put it down don’t really ever pick it up,” said Jewelz Mayol, a third-grader and KCCNYC member. “They just leave it there and … we want to clean it up so people don’t trip and get hurt.”
KCCNYC organizer Kate Barvels believes faith is helping people to participate even when it’s not convenient for them.
“We know the coronavirus is here and it’s easier to stay home and watch things on TV,” Barvels said, “but we can very safely mask up, glove up, and go out and show our kids that even in hard times it’s still important to give back and do the right thing.”