Guild members help clean up South Buffalo shoreline

A Buffalo Newspaper Guild initiative to do more community service and engage its members got off Saturday, April 21 to a successful start.

Union members took part in a litter cleanup of Red Jacket River Front Park as part of the annual Spring Shoreline Cleanup coordinated by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, as part of the Great American Cleanup. Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Western New York’s major waterways.

“I have never been prouder to be a Buffalo Guild member than when I saw 20 union members showing up [Saturday] to clean up trash at a small park on the Buffalo River. With rain and ugly 40-degree weather, I would not blame anyone for looking out their window and going back to sleep, but almost everyone who volunteered showed up and worked hard,” said Dan Herbeck, a member of the Guild’s Community Service Committee who helped organize the event.

The Guild formed a Community Service Committee earlier this year to identify volunteering opportunities for members, as well as their families and friends. We’re planning to establish relationships with certain not-for-profit organizations and regularly work with them.

“Volunteering can be rewarding, and can enhance the public image of The Guild and The Buffalo News. Volunteering also offers an opportunity to get more members involved in the Guild and help others at the same time,” said Henry Davis, president of the local.

Other projects planned by the Buffalo Newspaper Guild include working with an organization that helps people create and maintain community gardens on vacant land. The Guild also is starting a schools program that will include opportunities for high school students in the region to shadow a reporter or photographer, and a speakers bureau.

Volunteers on Saturday spent two and a half hours on a mucky, slippery shoreline, picking up a huge number of pop bottles, bottle tops, chunks of Styrofoam, lighters, waste paper, one animal skull and a wide range of unmentionable items.

“We actually had a lot of fun and quite a few laughs, especially after the rain let up. The RiverKeeper people were good to work with,” said Herbeck.

Our plan is to conduct this Guild effort annually in memory of our late friend, reporter and Guild leader John “Jay” Bonfatti. Jay, who died in 2008, loved the outdoors and believed strongly in caring for the natural wonders of Western New York.

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