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MacDonald spruced up for Mother Teresa

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Legislators and community residents gave one of Forest Hills’ most popular parks a makeover last week in honor of Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday.

Some two volunteers spent the afternoon last Thursday placing mulch around the trees and picking up litter at MacDonald Park at the intersection of Queens Boulevard, 70th Road and Yellowstone Boulevard.

The event was one of many planned around the city to commemorate the birthday of Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who devoted much of her life to working with the poor and the sick in Calcutta, India. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa was born Aug. 26, 1910, in Albania and died in 1997 in India.

“This park is heavily used, and I’m happy we were able to spend time here to give it the work it needed,” City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio and about 13 children from the Forest Hills-based Kidz Care joined Koslowitz at the park Thursday.

“This is one of many events we’re doing today, from park cleanups to going to soup kitchens,” Quinn said. “I wanted to do different events to send the message that whatever your interest is, there’s a way to serve your city, your neighborhood, not just today but every day.”

Quinn noted she was raised Catholic and holds Mother Teresa in high esteem.

“She’s a significant person in the world’s history,” Quinn said. “Her life’s work is amazing.”

Lewandowski, Hevesi and Gulluscio also emphasized how heavily used MacDonald Park is by everyone from toddlers and their parents to the many senior citizens who congregate over games of chess. While officials said they were pleased by the heavy use, it also means there can be a lot of litter.

“In Community Board 6, I consider this a town plaza,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a great public green, and any effort to maintain it is what we’re looking to do. People lunch here, they smoke, so we’re encouraging people to use the new garbage cans we placed here.”

Gulluscio said volunteers often help out at MacDonald Park, named after Capt. Gerald MacDonald, a World War I veteran from Forest Hills who died in a car accident in 1929. A bronze statue of MacDonald was erected in the park in 1934. The statue was just refurbished, Gulluscio said.

Members of Kidz Care, a group of young Queens residents who do volunteer work throughout the borough, helped out with the park as well, which Hevesi feted.

“You have young people showing their commitment to the community, and that’s a good way to honor Mother Teresa,” Hevesi said.

Hailey Goldberg, 12, of Forest Hills came with her friend Briana Marrazzo, 12, of Jackson Heights to clean the area.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 6 years old,” Goldberg said of her volunteer work. “It’s bettering the community.”

Joseph Nocerino, a Forest Hills resident who founded and runs Kidz Care, said projects like the one on Thursday allows students to see they can have a direct and positive impact on their community.

“They develop a sense of pride,” Nocerino said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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