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Hands On New York: A Day Of Service From New York Cares

Volunteers help clean up at Riverside Park as part of Hands On New York, organized by New York Cares for National Volunteer Week. (Credit: CBS 2)

Volunteers help clean up at Riverside Park as part of Hands On New York, organized by New York Cares for National Volunteer Week. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — People were rolling up their sleeves for National Volunteer Week, as hundreds of volunteers dug in for a day of work at Riverside Park.

Dmitriy Byvalets usually spends his days indoors, working on credit approval for global markets at HSBC, so Saturday was a welcome change.

“Definitely – it’s the fresh air, the group of people that you work with, it’s definitely better,” Byvalets said. “Inside, you’re just stuck facing the computer.”

As part of Hands on New York Day, New York Cares organized more than 5,000 volunteers in 70 projects across the city. In Riverside Park, more than 200 volunteers from HSBC – including the bank’s CEO for North America – were raking leaves, planting shrubs and composting, reports CBS 2’s Magee Hickey.

“I think it’s best to rake downhill, it’s easier, and I think you just get into a good rhythm and get your back into it and keep going,” HSBC managing director Niall Booker said.

“It’s just a great gift to the Parks Department, particularly now with the budget being tight ,” NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. “We really need all the help we can get, and when we have big events like this, where an outside group comes in and says, ‘we want to volunteer in parks.’”

Other bank employees learned something as well.

“Am I tired? My arms hurt a little bit, [but] I don’t go to the gym, so this is a good workout,” Sama Chami said.

“It actually really does feel really good to come out and do something, and give back to the community, and we’re having fun doing it,” HSBC branch service manager Monica Scott said. “I love it, it’s great.”

The youngest member of the team learned something that many already knew – that giving back is fun.

“We use so much teamwork, when we’re done we high five each other, it felt so great,” 10-year-old Pooja Hanagandi said.