Though he is still just 22, Christopher Peguero of St. Albans has been building a resume of community service projects.
And with litter and dumped trash creating eyesores in many communities in Southeast Queens, forming the South East Queens Clean Up Group probably just came naturally to him.
The group of volunteers, armed with rakes, brooms and large garbage bags, took to the sidewalks at 109th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard on Saturday morning.
Peguero, a recent graduate from York College, got involved in his neighborhood by attending his local community board meeting; he made this decision because people expressed so much strife towards the issue.
“I believe we should keep elected officials accountable but still do something in the meantime,” said Peguero.
He also believes that trash is one of the main issues that affect South Jamaica. He contacted another community advocate, Joe Moretti, the founder of Clean Up Jamaica, who put him in touch with others interested in the project.
Peguero is not a newbie when it comes to community service. He was a part of the Latin Caucus at York College, where he volunteered at various soup kitchens, toy drives, and a hat and scarf drive.
“I like doing stuff like this because it is tangible and people get to see the results,” said Peguero.
On Saturday residents Pamela Hazel, Allen Smalls, Paula Hopkins and others came out to improve the look of their community by sweeping the block.
Also on hand was Munir Avery, a candidate in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary for the 14th State Senate District.
Saturday’s main target was a sidewalk filled with trash, mixed in with dried up leaves. The leaves came from trees within grass-filled abandoned park that has broken benches and a rusty old slide.
Moretti and Hazel have been critical of what they see as a lack of action by elected officials who represent the area.
“We are community orphans because we are abandoned by our local leaders,” said Hazel. They have said they have had difficulty getting the cooperation of the Department of Sanitation.
Avery participated because, he said, he wants to “make southeast Queens a beautiful place to live and work.”
“My goal as senator is to give the community more opportunity to come together and help each other,” said Avery.
Smalls, a resident of the block for 12 years, said participating in the cleanup made him feel good.
“You wouldn’t want to live in a sloppy area,” he said.