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Sayville Runner Leads Clean-Up - community - 8/20/2011
Grace Papagno

When Darelle Gil, a local resident and runner, noticed more and more debris on Sayville’s streets while she jogged, she realized that Sayville was losing some of its beauty to litter. Darelle decided to do something about the situation. She posted her feelings on’s Forum page and was shocked when she received thousands of views. People agreed with her!

Hoping that many of Sayville’s good people would help, Darelle set up Saturday, August 20th at 9:00 AM as her first “Clean-Up” date. She acquired orange safety vests, protective gloves and large garbage bags from KIC (Keep Islip Clean) and met with whomever wanted to join her at the parking lot just east of the Carvel Shopping Center on Main Street to begin the overwhelming task of cleaning up. That’s where I met Darelle and her “crew”.

Brian Walsh, a 9th grader at Sayville High School told me that he was interested in doing community service as he donned a vest. Jesse Hirsch, a senior at Sayville High and a scout in Troop 76, Bohemia, was using the experience to help him earn his “citizenship in the community” merit badge toward becoming an Eagle Scout. Greg Vail, a sixth-generation, lifetime Sayville resident told me, “When I saw the blog, I thought – that’s not what Sayville’s about; somebody’s got to get up and do something about it.”

When I checked in with Greg about ten minutes later, he’d raked up huge piles of rubbish from the edges of the parking lot. “It’s going to take a community to clean up a community,” he commented.

Judy Smith-Stenger and Elizabeth Severin arrived with several children. “We’re here to help the community and to learn how to give back,” Judy said. Her group was ambitious and eager.

The overwhelming amount of rubbish collected was surprising and saddening. Brian Walsh looked at what he’d gathered and commented, “The amount of trash is ridiculous!” Undiscouraged, he continued pick up.

“We rely too much on others to do for us,” Darelle told me. “If people in the future wouldn’t litter, we wouldn’t have to do this.” With that, the area east of the Carvel shopping area clean, she headed to the Stop and Shop Center, street side to once again, pick up after the less community-minded people who’d littered it.

I know that I will be there on the second “Clean-Up” date to do what I can to keep Sayville the town that people like to live in and visit. If you, too, would like to become part of the solution, email Darelle at for future meeting dates. I’ll meet you there.

Darelle Gil Directs Crew

Jesse Hirsch and Brian Walsh

Greg Vail

Brian Walsh at Work


front row: Madison Andersen and Benjamin Flaumesheft
back row: Laurne Flaumesheft, Amelia Flaumesheft, Alex Severin, Caitlyn Severin

Garter snake caught in debris is returned to the woods

Darelle Gil

Grace Papagno has lived in Sayville for over thirty years. She loves her town and loves to write, so writing for is a natural combination for her. She can be reached at

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