184. A Cleaner River (2)

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The three brothers went out on the river almost every day, weather permitting. They tied some rowboats behind their boat to use as floating trash cans. They picked up all the trash they could see floating in the river. Friends joined them. Then friends told other friends, and by the end of the first year there were more than 200 volunteers helping the Green Fleet clean up the river. In the first 365 days, the brothers estimated that they had removed more than 10 tons of trash from the river. Their work was creating a cleaner-looking and cleaner-smelling river.

Corporations got involved and donated money and materials. By the end of the second year, the Green Fleet had grown to four boats and four barges. The brothers appeared on radio talk shows and on local and national TV shows. Activists throughout the nation began organizing their own Green Fleets.

The Green Fleet got bigger and better every year. Five years after its inception, the three brothers were able to go snorkeling on weekends in their river. Unfortunately, a year later, Manny accidentally stuck himself with a hypodermic needle while picking up a dirty plastic bag. He got an infection but didn't see a doctor until it was too late. At Manny's funeral, his brothers vowed to carry on their volunteer work until they were too sick or old to do it any longer. To honor Manny, the St. James city council voted to rename the city's largest park after him.


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