Astoria Park got some ‘Hands on’ care

Astoria Park got a recent helping hand thanks to the service of more than 200 volunteers who spent part of their weekend trying to make the park look better.

Saturday, April 16 marked the 17th annual New York Cares’ Hands on New York Day. About 5,600 volunteers worked at 70 sites throughout the borough, including 16 areas in Queens.

In Astoria Park, participants painted railings, fences, and benches and raked up leaves.

This marked the fourth year that Long Island resident Darrell Romero had volunteered during the event, which was sponsored by HSBC Bank USA, N.A.

“I think it’s great,” he said of the turnout. “This is a big crowd. I love it.”

Romero noted that the work being done by volunteers would not be able to be completed by the Parks Department personnel because of how time-consuming it would be.

Another Long Islander and volunteer, Jeanne Browne, said that she loves the park and uses them, so she felt she was just giving back by helping clean them up. She hoped that the community would notice a nicer park once the volunteers finished their work.

“I just feel everybody should [give back] so it always feels good,” Browne said. “There’s no downside.”

Ninth grade students Marisa Gonzalez and Johanna Monge also volunteered because they wanted to do something to help the community. As a resident of Astoria, Monge said that she uses the park and, following storms, saw a lot of garbage and piled up leaves.

“We helped improve some of it. We’re doing the best we can as individuals,” Monge said, also pointing out that young people were volunteering. “Everybody’s getting involved at every age.”

Gonzalez, a resident of Brooklyn, described the experience as “great.”

“It’s nice to see that so many people are willing to come out [and help] in their communities,” she said.

According to New York Cares Executive Director Gary Bagley, damage from the “harsh winter has made it even more crucial for everyone to step up and help revitalize the parks, gardens and green sites throughout their neighborhood.”

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe expressed his gratitude for the work being done by the many volunteers.

“Hands on New York Day is an annual rite of spring, and we thank New York Cares and HSBC for binging 5,000 volunteers into New York City’s parks, playgrounds, and community gardens to clean up and green up these vital spaces,” he said. “We are grateful to all of the citizen volunteers who generously provided sweet equity to improve their neighborhood parks and open spaces.”

Upcoming New York Cares volunteer opportunities in Queens include food sorting and packaging, school mural painting, Flushing Meadows Marina clean-up, and electronic waste and textile recycling. Participants are required to attend an orientation. To find out more about getting involved, visit www.newyorkcares.org.

For more information on parks in New York City and upcoming events, visit www.nycgovparks.org.

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