Reaching Out to Help the Potomac Watershed

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By Jenny Adams
Muslim Link Contributing Writer

On a warm and sunny Saturday morning, a group of volunteers from Al-Huda School & Dar-us-Salaam gathered at Springhill Lake Stream in Greenbelt, MD.  At this tiny stream, tucked behind a nondescript brown brick building, the volunteers pulled on work gloves as bright orange trash bags were handed out. They walked down to the stream and began picking up the trash in the water and along the water’s edge. A goose and two ducks flew away as the first volunteers approached.

Along with other volunteers from the local community, the Dar-us-Salaam team was participating in an area-wide initiative called the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. Organized annually by the Alice Ferguson Foundation (www.hardbargainfarm.org), the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup brings together thousands of volunteers throughout MD, DC and VA to remove trash from streams, creeks and other waterways in the region before it washes into the Potomac River. This year’s cleanup was held on April 5th from 9am – 12pm.

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The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s website explains that “the Potomac River provides 480 million gallons of drinking water to the Washington area and 100 million [gallons] of ground water to rural regions.” Since the Potomac Cleanup was launched in 1998, “more than 30,000 volunteers working with over 220 partner organizations, businesses, and government agencies [have removed] 1,022 tons (more than 2 million pounds) of trash from the Potomac watershed”.

By the end of the morning, the Dar-us-Salaam volunteers had removed a bicycle, a shopping cart, table, chair, and 12 bags of trash from the stream, and had a lot of fun as well. The site organizer, Cindy Murray, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Greenbelt, thanked everyone for their help, and especially for removing the shopping cart and other large items!

The Islamic Information Center spearheaded and directed Dar-us-Salaam’s participation in this all-volunteer effort, and hopes local Muslims will continue to participate in this annual green-friendly event.