The day was clear and warm as volunteers canvassed the James River for trash and debris in several locations all along the waterways.
As part of the James River cleanup, a stretch of the river was cleaned at the Falling Creek area. More than 50 volunteers, adults and children, came out to support the effort to keep the riverways clean.
Two of the many volunteers along the Falling Creek area were from FortLee. Clarissa Noyola is doing a Basic Officer Leadership Course, and it was her birthday. She said she was enjoying the experience. “It’s my good deed for my birthday,” Noyola explained. “I’m glad to be doing good for the community.” Her friend Jackie Ytuarte said she was happy to be there so she and her friend “can do things together.”
Boy Scout Troop 840 from Bon Air came to be part of the cleanup effort. There were eight Scouts and three leaders there for the effort. Two of the Scouts, Wills Erda and Aidan Dowdy, were working along the banks of the river. Dowdy said, “I like helping the river; I just don’t want the river polluted because I love fishing.” Erda is from Charles City, and he travelled an hour to participate. “I live on the river on a plantation in Charles City and I’m here to clean up the river to keep our water clean.”
Another group that participated in the cleanup was the Islamic Center of Virginia. Thirteen volunteers served from the center and canvassed the banks and land for trash. Just one such discovery included an old tire rim and some scrap metal. These were big finds.
Mohamed Refaat and Asghar Goraya have done the cleanup with their children for several years. “It’s part of our giving back to the neighborhood,” Refaat explained. “I live in Midlothian, and I want to take care of my community.” Goraya echoed that. “I was an environmental engineer for Philip Morris before I retired keeping our environment beautiful can only happen with the involvement of citizens,” he said. They both shared that they brought along the kids to make sure they learn to take care of their neighborhoods.
Lori Damiana of Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation was helping with leading the effort. It’s her second year working on the cleanup. “I’m glad to be here because it keeps our waterways clear, and I’m a seafood fanatic, so I want all this preserved,” she said.
There were more than 50 volunteers along the Falling Creek area of the river, including 10 from Fort Lee. Janit Llewellyn Allen of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation said this was “a great turnout for this location.”
More than 750 volunteers participated in the cleanup along the James River and its shorelines. This was the 18th year of the regional effort. In all, more than 600 bags of trash and 500 bags of recyclables were collected. It’s all in a day’s work.