Mary Helen Darah
Alex Eichner, Ben Graalman, and Connor Radkov are on a mission to clean up the 419, and they’re beginning with Sylvania. The trio, students at Sylvania Southview High School, started a club at their school after seeing a pile of trash by the road. Radkov recalled, “In April, Alex, Ben and I were driving along Centennial Road and saw a big pile of trash. A few days later we noticed it was still there. The third time we drove by the unsightly pile, we pulled over and picked it up. It was then that we noticed there was trash all the way down Centennial Road so we decided to pick that up too. It was at that moment that we decided to form the Clean Up 419 club.”
When school resumed in the fall, the group spoke with the school administrators and filled out the paperwork to bring their idea for a club that would beautify Sylvania and the surrounding area to fruition. “The first meeting was held at Southview,” Radkov said. “We held an informative session and an orientation in a Southview classroom. We had 60 attendees that spilled out into the hallway. The first clean up project was held along a stretch of Centennial Road across from Mayberry. We had 16 Southview students show up to help. We expected more to come but students participating in fall sports contributed to the low number. The second project was also done on Centennial Road and we had 22 club members participate. We expect the number of participants will increase as the year progresses.”
The club members enjoy the camaraderie as well as the feeling of giving back to their community. “We definitely have a fun time bonding as a club,” said Radkov. “It is also very interesting and enlightening to see what people throw away. Another great aspect of the club is having people support our efforts. We had a lady come over and thank us for our service. It’s nice to see people being appreciative of what we are doing and to make a positive impact.”
The short-term goal of the group is to continue to clean up the local area. However, in the winter, when trash removal is not a desirable activity, the group plans on holding a fundraiser. “We will be planning a fundraiser to benefit green projects that we would like to do at Southview,” said Radkov.
Clean Up 419 meets weekly on Saturdays and Sundays at various areas to pick up trash and debris. The three founders feel strongly about keeping the environment healthy. Radkov stated, “I think it’s important to help keep things clean because humans can’t survive without a healthy environment. It is an essential part of living.” Club founder Ben Graalman said, “Waste infrastructure is lacking in several parts of America, and systematic change must be brought upon to save our planet.” Club organizer and founder Alex Eichner believes the time is now to help the planet. He said, “In order to prevent the decay of our planet, everyone needs to become an environmentalist.”