Events spotlight importance of city’s young people

Recycling, cleanup, and backpack drive bring Coatesville’s youth together

By Kyle Carrozza, Staff Writer, The Times

CYI members and Sgt. Roger Ollis stand in front of tires collected during city cleanup. The CYI took the tires for recycling.

CYI members and Sgt. Rodger Ollis stand in front of tires collected during city cleanup. The CYI took the tires for recycling.

COATESVILLE – Helping the community is not just about individual actions but creating a climate where everyone wants to improve his or her surroundings.

This message seemed to be a common theme for the Coatesville Recycling and Living Green Festival, the Back to School Cleanup, and two back-to-school drives, all of which took place on Saturday.

Organized by the Coatesville Youth Initiative, the Coatesville Recycling and Living Green Festival gathered Initiative members and volunteers for kids’ activities, a book giveaway, and a day of recycling awareness in Gateway Park.

“We wanted to get the community excited about making sure it’s clean,” said Chaya Scott, Director of the Coatesville Youth Initiative.

The festival allowed citizens to drop off recyclables, which were collected and sorted by Initiative members. More than just cans and bottles, items collected included tires, appliances, electronics, and scrap metal. Part of the reason behind collecting such a wide variety of items was to educate the community.

“People don’t really know what they can and can’t recycle,” said Program Coordinator Mena Badros.

Festival attendees turn recycled goods into art. The day festival was full of activities for children.

Festival attendees turn recycled goods into art. The daylong festival was full of activities for children.

Associate Coordinator for the CYI Sam Brown agreed.

“A lot of people say they recycle, but some people aren’t fully aware of how to recycle properly,” he said.

As a part of the awareness efforts, Waste Oil Recyclers, Inc. was present. With a facility in Modena, the company collects used cooking oil and turns it into fuel. Throughout the summer, the CYI helped with its MoGreena Garden Project, which has contributed 600 lbs. of vegetables to the Chester County Food Bank this year.

But the day was about more than just recycling. Along with the sun-drenched day, free books, games for kids, a moon bounce, and dancing all contributed to the festive atmosphere.

“We wanted to have a way to bring the community together,” said Brown. “It’s a great way to have parents get involved with kids.”

Bringing the community together provided a chance for students to gain experience in event organization and coordination. Though Badros oversaw the preparation, which started eight weeks ago, he said the students did most of the planning.

“They’re the leaders of the city, moving forward,” he said. “By getting the youth involved, they take ownership and feel a sense of responsibility to their community.”

Divided into four groups, Initiative members organized entertainment, vendors, logistics, and marketing.

“The kids get to see the planning, how committees work together,” said Scott. “The experience teaches them better than we ever could.”

CYI members echoed the sentiment that they want to be citizens who care for the city and influence others to care as well.

“Kids can’t play in the streets if there’s glass,” said Brown. “If we work together, we can make the community better.”

In order to clean up those streets, the Coatesville Parks and Recreation Committee, along with the Community Policing Committee, held its Back to School Cleanup on Saturday.

CYI volunteers, Brandywine Health Foundation CEO and President Frances Sheehan, and city residents cleaned up trash and collected recyclables downtown. The materials collected went to Gateway Park to be sorted by the CYI. Coatesville Sgt. Rodger Ollis and Community Policing Committee members did some heavy lifting, collecting a truck full of tires for recycling.

Students collect backpacks from Saturday's backpack drive at the Community Center.

Students collect backpacks from Saturday’s backpack drive at the Community Center.

A backpack drive arranged by the Helping Hand Relief Fund and the Derrick Morgan Youth Foundation capped off the day. Around 200 kids came to the Coatesville Memorial Community Center to prepare for the coming school year.

“It’s important to give back to your community if you have the opportunity to,” said Miguel Torres, the Derrick Morgan Youth Foundation volunteer who planned the event.

Though Morgan could not make it, as his Tennessee Titans had a game Saturday night, the 2007 graduate’s foundation will look to get more involved with the community in the future.

“Any type of organized event that helps the youth will keep them out of trouble, keep them focused on bigger things,” said Torres. “Especially coming from people who are from this area who made it, it gives them hope.”

Whether it be through gaining experiences with the CYI to become better citizens, seeing their city cleaned and improved, or someone who went on to do big things giving back to the community, Coatesville’s youth and former youth showed their influence on Saturday.

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