Giving Back Made Easy


When Governor Murphy lifted the mandatory closures on state parks, Ms. Hughes and her daughter Ellison could not wait to go hiking at Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg, NY. Like everyone else in the world, they were anxious to get out of the house and do something that did not involve a screen. The 20 minute ride to their favorite spot seemed like Heaven. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and there were lots of new, smiling faces to look at. After finding a space in the parking lot, Ms. Hughes and Ellison started the short hike to their favorite little lake.

Unfortunately, when they broke out of the woods to the grassy shore of the lake, they saw something that upset them to their core. TRASH! It was everywhere. From fishing line tangled along the water’s edge to smashed bottles hiding shards of sharp glass in the grass, their favorite spot looked like a litter war zone. They could only assume that with the parks closed for so long, the usual clean up crews hadn’t been working and the local partiers had found a great hangout spot.

With each new curve in the path, Ms. Hughes and Ellison were hit with more of the same. Trash, trash, and more trash. Their amazing hike around the lake was quickly turning into a sad trudge through litter. By the time they got back to their car, they were both feeling pretty low.

That is when Ellison said something that we have all said many times, “I wish there was something we could do.”

Maybe it was the weeks of being cooped up with nothing to do or maybe it was the fresh air awakening her brain, but Ms. Hughes replied, “There IS something we can do.”

After gathering the necessary equipment (gloves, trash bags, and Dollar Store claw grabbers) Ms. Hughes and Ellison returned to their favorite lake ready to battle the trash. This time, instead of just walking along their path and complaining about the trash, they were walking the path and cleaning up as they went. By the time they had completed just half of their normal hike, they had bags and bags of trash. With a little help from some other hikers, Ms. Hughes and Ellison carried the bags back to the parking lot and put them in a dumpster.

They were amazed at how many passersby remarked, “Wow! Did you collect all of that? Thank you so much, the lake really needs it.” With each person’s comment, Ms. Hughes and Ellison just gave each other a look that said, “We were just like you until we decided to actually do something about it.”

So, if you’re sick of being stuck inside and you’ve watched everything there is on Netflix, how about getting out for a clean up walk around your neighborhood because giving back can be that easy.