A morning rain Wednesday wasn’t enough to keep some 45 members of the Dunkirk High School Class of 2014 from giving back to the city during the 13th annual Senior Sweep event.
The seniors met at City Hall shortly before 9 a.m. prior to fanning out to designated areas of the city, including the Dunkirk Free Library, Washington Park, parking lots and First Ward beach areas, along with streets in the vicinity of City Hall. Students worked in the rain until reassembling at City Hall around 11 a.m. for lunch and a raffle with prizes.
Councilwoman Stacy Szukala was in charge of the event for the third, and final, time. She was asked about Wednesday’s effort.
“Despite the weather I think the kids had a good time. We picked up several bags of trash, a shopping cart, some drug paraphernalia and others,” she replied. “We got half of the kids that signed up to come out so there was about 45 kids that came out. Just as the event winds down the rain stops and the sun comes out but it was a good event. We were able to do a nice raffle and they ate a nice lunch so it’s all good.”
Charles ‘Duke’ Medema and Connor Aitcheson are co-presidents of the class of 2014 and both said they enjoyed the experience.
“I do a lot of community service to begin with so for me I’m kind of used to it, but I thought it was really swell. This is probably, for a lot of kids, the first time actually giving back to the community,” Medema stated. “I think it’s a great thing. I think each class should do some sort of community service type of thing at the end of the year.
“I just think it’s a great event to partake in. Just to see all the garbage we’ve got to pick up is just a wakener to say that everybody needs to give back to the community,” Aitcheson said. “There’s a lot of improvement that can be made in what we have so far.”
Medema had one more thing to say to his classmates.
“Today was awesome, congratulations to the class of 2014. This year’s ours guys, good job.”
Donna Keith is chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee and was on hand once again to help on behalf of the CAC.
“We just really had a good time. A lot of kids, very respectful and it looks like they had a very good time,” she said of the event. “Lots of food, so very good, enjoyed it. I enjoy it every year.”
Szukala took over the Senior Sweep from former councilman Kevin Muldowney, who ran the event for its first 10 years, and she had some recommendations for the council person who succeeds her.
“They need to be organized, they need to start a couple months early and they need to solicit for the donations because this is solely donations,” she stated. “There is no city money that goes into this.”
According to Szukala, this year’s monetary donations came from Lake Shore Bank, the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, Dunkirk Local 616, the Dunkirk Police Benevolent Association, the Kosciuszko Polish Home, the Dunkirk Teachers Association and James and Grace Tarnowski.
The following donated items and gift certificates: Tops, Walmart, Pizza Hut, Sullivans Charbroil, G+E Tents, the Paper Factory, Robo Gas Station, Pizza Village, Tim Hortons and the city of Dunkirk.
Help during the event was provided by the Boys and Girls Club, Citizens Advisory Committee, City Treasurer Mark Woods, City Assessor Tom Mleczko, Police Chief David Ortolano, the Dunkirk City School District and School Resource Officer Shane Carlson, who is a member of the Dunkirk Police Department.
The Class of 2015 will have its turn next year, hopefully in the sun.
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