WILKES-BARRE – Incoming college freshmen on Monday patiently picked up cigarette butts, foam cups and whatever other litter that motorists had tossed along North River Street in recent months.
The students’ work was among 25 volunteer efforts that were part of orientation for incoming freshmen at Wilkes University.
University spokeswoman Christine Seitzinger said the experience helps familiarize students with the area while giving them a chance to get acquainted with each other.
Recent Pittston Area graduates Anthony Barg and Alex Caicedo teamed up for the litter pick-up along North River. Anthony held a white trash bag as Alex, whose nickname is “Sniper,” shot baskets with the trash.
“I think it’s a good learning experience,” Alex said.
Seitzinger said about 320 freshmen performed volunteer work Monday and another 300 will participate during July’s orientation. She said freshmen helped out at 25 locations throughout the Wyoming Valley. About 50 students cleaned up along Public Square in the city, while others volunteered at the Luzerne County SPCA, Little Flower Manor and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Seitzinger said the annual volunteer effort focuses on helping the environment, senior citizens and children. One group joined with Big Brothers/Big Sisters to play games with children in Kirby Park.
Each student group performed a community service in cooperation with another organization. Marines from the Reserve Center in Wyoming normally collect litter along North River Street. The Marines have adopted the stretch from the North Cross Valley, south to Pierce Street. The Marines and students gathered in a parking lot along North River to fan out in two directions to pick up litter.
The Marines were on hand to help the freshmen. Full bags of litter got dumped into a waiting Humvee.
“We try to come out here four times a year,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Shortridge.
“Do we get to ride in the Humvee?” freshman Jeff Kaufman asked before the litter collection began. The 17-year-old toted a white trash bag that he filled with assorted litter. He found a dead goldfinch on the side of the street. Jeff didn’t want to place the bird in with the trash so he placed it farther away from the road. “Sorry, dude,” he said.
Wilkes senior Michael Lewis of Pottsville served as one of the group’s mentor/orientation leaders.
“This is a legacy that Wilkes has had for several years that gives back to the community,” he said. The 21-year-old mechanical engineer major said organizations are appreciative of the freshmen’s help.
“I think it’s a good idea to get involved in the community we’ll be living in for four years,” said freshman Abby Kasprenski.