After picking up trash along western Indiana Avenue in Atlantic City, Wanda Rivera, of Pleasantville, right, who is an employee at Bally's Atlantic City, places it into a trash bag held by Donna Hogan, of Egg Harbor Township, who works at Caesars Entertainment. Atlantic City Clean Communities Day, June 7, 2012. Photo by Stefanie Campolo

Stefanie Campolo

ATLANTIC CITY — Hakim Abdullah does what he can to keep the corner outside the store where he works, West Side Grocery & Deli on Indiana Avenue, free of litter.

He reprimands people, usually youths, when he sees them discard trash on the street. But he also offers them the store’s trash can as an alternative.

“What do I care if they use our trash cans? As long as it ends up where it’s supposed to,” said Abdullah, 45. “A lot of people along here try to keep their properties clean, but it’s difficult when there are so many people passing by who don’t care about where they toss their trash.”

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On Thursday morning, property owners throughout the city received some help from volunteers — including many from local governments, casinos, organizations and schools — who spent the day picking up debris.

The effort was part of the annual Atlantic City Cleanup Day.

“It’s important to spit-shine the city right now … especially with the ongoing campaign that is promoting Atlantic City as a clean and safe city,” said Don Marrandino, Eastern Division president for Caesars Entertainment Corp., as more than 400 Caesars Entertainment employees were preparing to clean eight streets on the north end of the island.

“A lot of our people are here on their day off and they are happy about it, because they have pride in this city,” said Marrandino, adding that he planned to join the effort himself. “The city does a good job on its own, but to have thousands of volunteers come out to pitch in really makes a difference.”

The city’s Public Works staff seemed to welcome the help.

“Make a mess! We’ve got people to clean it up today,” a Public Works supervisor instructed his staff on Indiana Avenue as he equipped them with string for weed trimmers.

Samuel Bekete, a slot manager at Caesars Atlantic City, had already filled a second bag of debris.

“I want to be part of making this the cleanest city,” said Bekete, 47, who was volunteering on his day off. “This is the image of our city, what the streets look like when people drive by. We should always do what we can to make sure that image is the best it can be.”

Donna Hogan, an operations controller and services leader at Caesars, was working alongside Bekete and a handful of other volunteers. She was scheduled to work in the casino later in the day.

“It’s great for the community to know that we care,” Hogan said. “Hopefully they’ll see this and either litter less or be inspired to get outside and do some work themselves or spread the word to visitors that Atlantic City is a clean place.”

When a group of volunteers passed West Side Grocery & Deli, Abdullah came out to check on the job they did.

“They did an excellent job,” he said. “Anytime someone volunteers to clean up after a mess that someone else made, they’re doing an excellent job. Hopefully some day they won’t have to.”

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