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"Slam Dunk the Junk" Day
« on: May 05, 2011, 08:41:01 AM »
Hackensack residents 'slam dunk the junk' for a cleaner community
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Hackensack Chronicle
Staff Writer

The River volunteers gave back to the Church on the Green by cleaning up the church grounds during the "Slam Dunk the Junk" day on April 30.

The River group gets set to participate in the semi-annual 'Slam Dunk the Junk' on April 30.

The River is a Church on the Green program that provides about 70-80 community members with dinner after Sunday night worship and bagels on Wednesday bible night.

According to Ted Kallinikos, an elder at the church, approximately two-thirds of the people who attend the Sunday and Wednesday night programs are from local shelters or make-shift homes.

"The homeless can give back to the community," the Rev. Don McCracken said.

About 15 volunteers from The River spent Saturday morning cleaning up the church's grounds and cemetery as well as the Riverwalk behind Pep Boys on River Street.

"I'm glad so many of them showed up," McCracken said. Each volunteer was given a t-shirt, gloves and plastic bags.

Both McCracken and Kallinikos said this event gives The River volunteers both pride in their community and a feeling of self-worth. "It helps lift their self-esteem and makes them realize they have more than they think they do," Kallinikos said.

"I wanted to help the church and it gives me something to do and a feeling of worth," Bob Goldberg said. Goldberg said he enjoyed participating in the "Slam Dunk the Junk" last year and decided he would volunteer his time again to clean up the front of the church.

Other volunteers wanted to make the church grounds presentable because they feel a connection to the church.

"I belong to this church," said Daniel Lockie. "This is my backyard." Although Lockie spent Saturday morning cleaning up the church grounds, he said for the last five years, he has been picking up litter in the cemetery and in front of the church every day.

James Lannuier said he volunteered to clean up the church because he "goes to the church" and wanted to make it look nice and clean.

According to McCracken, some of the people who attend the Sunday and Wednesday night dinners dump their leftover meals on the church grounds and behind Pep Boys. He also noted that some people drink alcoholic beverages in the cemetery and leave the bottles there. McCracken said tickets and receipts blow onto church property from the courthouse that is across the street.

The River was one of nine groups that participated in the "Slam Dunk the Junk" event, which is a bi-annual event sponsored by the New Jersey "Clean Communities" Grant. The other groups included Cub Pack No. 5, Boy Scout Troop No. 5, Fr. Laffler and the St. Anthony of Padua Youth Group, 5ive6ix School, seventh and eighth grade class, Hackensack High School's Goin' Green Club, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Fort Lee High School students volunteering on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. All of the groups enjoyed a breakfast at Java's Brewin' before they cleaned up various Hackensack areas and a lunch donated by Domino's after they finished cleaning up their areas.

Each participating group received $300 for their efforts. Kallinikos said this money goes to The River program to help pay for meals.

"We want to help people," said McCracken. "We want to help them break that cycle of homelessness."