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MLK Day: City uses it as day for service to clean up community - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

MLK Day: City uses it as day for service to clean up community

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Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011 12:00 am

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of vision, explained Ocean City Councilman Keith Hartzell. He had hoped for mutual tolerance and cultural acceptance, and at one time, he had planned for a day of service, for people of all races and class levels to work together towards a common goal.

It’s why Hartzell spent the morning of Jan. 17 picking up trash in alleys between Sixth and 11th streets in Ocean City.

The City of Ocean City and the Ocean City Clean Communities Program spearheaded Ocean City’s annual Martin Luther King Day City Wide Cleanup three years ago, after researching ways to expand on the city’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service and soul food dinner. The city found that Dr. King had planned to host a national day of service and brought the idea to Ocean City.

“It’s called a day on, not a day off,” said Hartzell.

This year, volunteers convened at the Ocean City Department of Public Works at 9 a.m., and picked up trash around the island from 10 a.m. to noon, in areas including the Fifth, 9th, 12th, and 29th Street beaches, the 35th Street baseball field, Stainton Wildlife Refuge and the 34th Street playground.

The event draws over 100 volunteers annually, including participants from the Ocean City High School Ecology Club, Key Club, and National Honor Society and the Ocean City Department of Public Works.

“Ocean City’s always been good for volunteers,” said Mike Rossbach, the director of Ocean City’s Department of Public Works. “A lot of people take pride in the cleanliness of Ocean City.”

Ocean City High School students Maria Winte, Shannon Lawson and Victoria Scully volunteered to clean up a beach with the National Honor Society. Even though the cold had made prying trash from the hardened sand difficult, the event was one of the more enjoyable community service events the Honor Society did, said Scully.

“When you see it in the summer and it’s so clean, it’s nice to know you were a part of that,” said Scully.

“It’s definitely what the holiday’s all about,” said Lawson, “going out and doing community service.”

Donna Groiner moved to Ocean City from Rochester, N.Y., three years ago, and has participated in the cleanup annually since moving here.

Shivering in a full-length green parka, Groiner joked that she hadn’t expected weather like Monday’s cold and windy conditions when she moved to Ocean City for warmer weather, but said she braved the cold anyway because she enjoyed giving back to the community.

This year, Groiner recruited her neighbor, Pat Anderson, into participating in the cleanup for the first time.

“I didn’t realize it would be so cold,” Anderson laughed. “But it’s nice. It feels good to help people.”

“When you walk on the beach, you can say, oh I cleaned up this beach,” said Groiner.

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