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73-Year-Old Long Island Man Determined To Keep Community Clean Spends Weekends Picking Up Trash

CORAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It's a solitary job, but someone has to do it.

A substitute teacher in Suffolk County has made it his personal mission to pick up litter on public roads.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday, no one is paying him to do it. But some are paying attention to his good deeds.

Mel Silverman, 73, of Coram has had it with Long Island litter.

"Trying to keep Long Island clean is like eating soup with a fork," Silverman said. "It just bothered me that people are so uncaring, just to throw garbage out their windows and just, treat the streets like it's a garbage can."

Instead of just rolling his eyes, Silverman rolls up his sleeves every weekend and takes his loathing of litter to a unique level.

He's been Long Island's one-man clean up crew for 30 years and counting.

"Empty cans, bottles, fast food wrappers, empty cigarette boxes and now, of course, the masks and the gloves," Silverman told Gusoff.

It's a thankless job that sometimes has modest rewards.

"Some people think I'm homeless and they've stopped and offered me doughnuts," he said.

Silverman just received a certificate of appreciation from the Town of Brookhaven.

Town Council Member Jane Bonner said litter is one of the biggest complaints from residents.

"Just saw a need and addressed it on his own," Bonner said. "The world needs one million more Mels that will take on their civic responsibility of making their corner of the world a better place to live."

Silverman said he's not in it for the recognition. He said he does it, "Because I don't see anyone else doing it. I would love to see other people doing it."

Silverman, a former social studies teacher, said there's a civics lesson in it.

"Just common decency about things and keeping the streets clean," he said. "Simple as that, don't litter. There's garbage cans, that's why God made garbage cans. Put garbage into the can."

And put Silverman out of work.

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