Football players team up to tackle roadside trash

Edward Medaris, 14, at left, a Masuk High School student, formed the group Tackle the Trash and organized a roadside cleanup on East Village Road last March.

MONROE, Conn. — Trash scattered along East Village Road included empty vodka and nips bottles, crushed beer cans, paper cups from fast food restaurants, part of a car and a muddy doll that members of a clean up crew say may or may not be cursed.

Volunteers of a new group called Tackle the Trash wore orange vests and gloves Sunday morning, as they used grabbers to pick up garbage and fill large trash bags. The effort was led by Edward Medaris, 14.

Medaris, who played nose tackle for the Monroe Lions youth football team last season, enlisted the help of some of his teammates.

“We’ve just been noticing a lot of trash and everyone’s getting more aware that the Earth is polluted, so I decided to get anyone I could to help,” Medaris said. “I’ve just been seeing more stuff out, facts of how we’ve damaged our environment and how we have to help it.”

Autumn Smith, 16, uses a grabber to pick up garbage on the side of East Village Road, while Don Medaris holds a bag open for the trash.

He reached out to people on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. “The response has been good,” he said.

Medaris started his group on Friday and arranged for their first cleanup along East Village Road Sunday morning. His group received permission from the Monroe Historical Society to park on the Barn Hill Road side of the Meeting House.

“I wasn’t expecting a huge amount of people to come,” he said. “I asked a couple friends, but if anyone else was interested, I posted on My Story in Snapchat.”

Joining the cleanup effort on Sunday were former Lions players Andrew Radu, 13, Tristan Smith, 13, and Henry Whalen, 13. Autumn Smith, 16, a Masuk High School student and Tristan’s sister, also pitched in.

Henry Whalen, 13, reaches into the brush to pick out trash during a roadside cleanup Sunday.

“I’ve always felt really close to their families,” she said of boys on the Lions. “I felt like their older sister, so when they asked me to help, I saw it as an opportunity to help them and the community.”

Her father, Nate Smith, also participated in the roadside cleanup, along with Medaris’ parents, Elisabeth and Don.

The group worked along East Village Road, from the historic Meeting House to Robin Lane, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., filling four trash bags and half of three others in the stretch, which was approximately one-half-mile.

Easy to find

Elisabeth Medaris holds garbage she picked up from the side of East Village Road during a cleanup Sunday.

Garbage was not hard to find. Autumn was surprised at how many empty McDonald’s paper cups were strewn at the edge of the woods.

“I just can’t understand how people eating something in their car can just throw it out the window,” she said. “I don’t understand the mentality.”

Another area had a Kleenex box, an empty Kettle One vodka bottle, empty boxes of Kool-Aid Jammers, a Duchess cup and a Bud Light can.

Across the street, Nate Smith said, “there’s McDonald’s lids over here. It’s a McDonald’s free for all.”

Of the redeemable bottles and cans, Smith said, “it’s recyclable. You can get money back or it could go to the Masuk Bottle Drive that benefits the high school’s music program. I don’t know why people throw them.”

Nate Smith, left, holds open a bag for his son, Tristan, 13, to drop in a coffee cup lid he picked up alongside East Village Road Sunday.

Elisabeth Medaris said Tackle the Trash will use money from the redeemable bottles and cans to buy supplies for themselves, and any new members, for future cleanup efforts.

As traffic went by, one woman driving an SUV stopped to thank the volunteer cleanup crew.

Ed and his friends laughed as they dropped a mud covered doll into a bag, joking that it was cursed. They also found a large piece of plastic that had broken off a car.

Taking action

Don Medaris said Edward was inspired by his older sister, Isabella, 20, who is studying neuroscience at Juniata College in Pennsylvania.

Tackle the Trash members, from left, Edward Medaris, Tristan Smith, Henry Whalen, Andrew Radu and Autumn Smith.

“Recycling and sustainability, it’s something she’s passionate about,” Medaris said of his daughter. “She’s the one who encouraged my son to stop using straws.”

Medaris said he was happy his son Edward wanted to lead roadside cleanups, because he had heard a complaints about garbage throughout areas of town.

“He was inspired and wanted to take action,” Elisabeth Medaris said, “and anytime a young person does that, you want to support it as much as possible. I’m really proud of him and his friends for showing up.”

To get involved, visit Tackle the Trash – Monroe on Facebook or Instagram.

1 Comment

  1. Congrats to You! A very worthwhile community project. There are many places in our great land that have been violated with garbage. When I lived in Westchester county NY, our chapter of Trout Unlimited cleaned up brooks and streams. We hauled away bottles, cans and even tires and car batteries from streams! Good work Edward and family.

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