FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After previously being postponed because of the coronavirus, nearly 2,500 volunteers finally gathered for the city’s annual Great American Cleanup Saturday morning.
The clean up, hosted by the city’s Solid Waste Department, took place in various neighborhoods throughout Fort Wayne.
“We felt like this was a need that our community specifically needed,” said Courtney Lewis, a volunteer who picked up trash in Fort Wayne’s South Side. “As much litter as we found, we were actually shocked and we’ve lived here all of our lives.”
The volunteers cleaned up trash in neighborhoods, vacant lots, trails, streets, roads, and rivers. They also removed graffiti.
“It’s important to clean up your community not only for obviously the world but also because that’s something you want to strive for,” said Lewis. “Everyone wants to live in a nice community. everyone wants to live in a nice area.”
The city provided each volunteer with a t-shirt, garbage bags, and gloves. Last year, Fort Wayne volunteers collected nearly 190,000 pounds of debris during this event.
“We had a very positive experience,” said Tashira Terry, another volunteer. We had people rolling down their windows and thanking us for cleaning up the community.”
Terry said volunteering for this event goes well beyond just picking up trash.
“During these trying times it’s important for everyone to have that spirit of volunteerism and giving back,” said Terry. “Sometimes when you focus too much on what’s happening within your life and your own stresses it can really bring benefit to you if you open yourself up to maybe give to someone else.”
This year’s 2,500 volunteers is about half of the amount the Great American Cleanup typically sees. Matt Gratz, the manager of the Solid Waste Department said this is likely because of the pandemic.