M.S. 71 teams up with parks to clean Vets Memorial

(L-r) Richard Dieguez, Valarie Zayas, parent Michelle Zayas, Ashely Colon, Valentina Dushaj, Giselle Pineda, Angel Medina, Jenna Stokes, Mark Ayers, and Christina Andino, parent coordinator for M.S. 371, at a Saturday, October 25.

In an amazing display of generosity and kindness on the part of middle school students who gave of their time to make sure that a vital community resource in Throggs Neck remains clean, young people took to a neighborhood park on a special day.

Thirty students from M.S. 371, the Urban Institute of Mathematics, at 650 Hollywood Avenue were in Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday, October 25 for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s “It’s My Park Day,” a city-wide event.

The park, which honors veterans from all wars, got a much needed sprucing up as the young volunteers planted new flowers, mulched and weeded, under the close guidance and supervision of parents, school personnel and parks representatives.

“These are our scholars; I asked for volunteers – if they wanted to come out to the park on ‘It’s My Park Day’ and this large group volunteered,” said M.S. 371 parent coordinator Christina Andino. “The group is comprised of sixth and seventh graders, and I also brought two of my own kids.”

The children were treated to hot chocolate and donuts, courtesy of parks officials and local veterans who were also on hand to see the positive changes to the park that honors their comrades.

“The volunteers worked near where we placed time capsules to honor Jonathan Miskimmon,” said Korony American Legion Post 253 commander Pat Devine, who watched as the schoolchildren transformed the park for the better. “Miskimmon was the first person who died from our neighborhood in the Vietnam War. We used to play in the area where this park was located when we were kids.”

Devine said that he hopes that a triangle located in the center of the park will become a permanent memorial to the memory of Miskimmon and others who made the supreme sacrifice.

Devine is helping to lead the design phase of a reconstruction of the park funded using capital monies from Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca. He hopes to put a bench and distinctive planting near the triangle, and hopes that others will honor the memory of the all veterans everywhere.

Lawrence Scoons, chief of operations for all Bronx parks, was also on hand to wish the do-gooders well.

“These clean-up and planting projects can be a lot of fun; it is a way to give people a stake in the parks,” Scoons said. “When good things, or things we don’t want to happen take place in parks, we would like the public to give us a call. I love having children involved in these projects. It is a way to have them reconnect with nature and gain a stake of stewardship in our parks.”

More from Around NYC