Citizen-soldiers clean up


Soon after the sun rose yesterday, several dozen members o the National Guard combed the grounds of an Annapolis housing project, bagging everything from old tires to homemade crack pipes.

Members of the 1st 158th Cavalry filled bag after bag with trash, broken bottles, beer cans and other debris in the woods along Newtowne Drive in Woodside Gardens.

"It's great," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Smith, wiping sweat from his forehead.

"We're citizen-soldiers, not just someone who goes off to someplace else for a war. We all live in this area, and we want to help take care of it."

City officials helped by sending trucks to haul off the trash and pick up the larger items, such as old mattresses and fallen trees.

Maj. Jay Marts said yesterday marked the first time the Guard had worked with a community association on such a cleanup, but he said he welcomed the opportunity.

"We like to help out when we can," he said.

Carl Snowden, the Ward 5 Democrat on the City Council, also praised the operation. The public's image of the National Guard has sometimes been negative, Mr. Snowden said, and gaining support for an action like cleaning up is good for the Guard and the community.

"We want to form a partnership between the National Guard and the community to address the community's needs," Mr. Snowden said. "The Guard has been very supportive of our efforts."

Mary Hunt, president of the planning and action committee of the Newtowne 20 community, helped coordinate the effort.

She also dragged debris from the woods, but got little help from the Newtowne residents.

"We'll go on with what we have and maybe they'll show up," she said.

Few residents strolling by the cleanup joined the effort, but Ms. Hunt remained cheerful.

As she hauled junk from the property, Ms. Hunt explained that people apparently toss items into the wide-open space of woods that fronts Newtowne 20.

"I wish we could find those people who threw the stuff and get them to help us throw it out of the woods," she said.

As the Guardsmen turned up a safety-deposit box that had been ripped apart and several hubcaps, Ms. Hunt praised their efforts.

"It's a really good idea," she said. "We need all the help we can get."

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