More than 20 volunteers geared up Tuesday morning to do their part in keeping Ellwood City clean and safe for residents and visitors alike.

"The volunteers all said that, you know, everybody was really thanking them for doing it," said Justin Neupauer, owner of Alborn Tire Sales. 

Neupauer posted a call on social media asking for volunteers to participate in "Operation Cleanup," for which they would remove trash from the parks and even disinfect parking meters and crosswalk buttons throughout across Lawrence, Beaver and Bell avenues and side streets.

When business began to slow down a few weeks ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Neupauer thought putting his employees to work "sanitizing the town and stopping the spread" during their downtime would be beneficial.

"I wanted to keep my guys busy," he said. "The last thing I really want to do is lay anybody off."

Four of Neupauer's employees participated while other volunteers included borough police officers and a borough council member.

Other Ellwood City-based businesses such as T&M Hardware, Aiken Refuse, Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ, National Grind, and Katy’s Bakery chipped in by donating food, supplies and services.

"A lot of the people stopped and thanked us," said Neupauer. "I did get some backlash on Facebook and stuff like that over it, but, yeah, I do feel like it was a success."

Neupauer received messages on Facebook questioning the safety of the project.

"I just want to make sure everybody knows that we took proper precautions," said Neupauer. "We had masks for everybody that wanted them. (We) definitely (had) gloves and stressed the social distancing between everybody, so hopefully that kind of eases some minds there."


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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