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Community Spring Clean-Up

As we begin to set our sights on spring and milder weather, it is the time of year when we start planning for Bridgeton’s semi-annual clean-up day. For 2022, the first clean-up day will take place on Saturday, March 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Coming out of winter, there will be a lot of trash and litter on our streets and sidewalks, but I think we’re up to the challenge.

Trash and litter, left unaddressed, has a blight effect in our neighborhoods, depressing property values and tacitly giving unspoken permission to people to be apathetic toward their surroundings. I suppose trash and litter is a symptom of poverty, though I reject the idea that one should automatically lead to the other. Throwing your trash into receptacles doesn’t require much more than a willingness to do so, but that’s a discussion for another day.

By March 26, clocks will have sprung ahead and we’re inviting volunteers to meet up at the Marino Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. to sign-up, gather supplies, receive assigned areas or neighborhoods for clean-up, and get organized for the day’s work. From there, teams will spread out in various corners of the community with bags, gloves, and pick-up sticks to give our community a little TLC.

Beyond that, we are eagerly awaiting poster submissions from Bridgeton students to help give this year’s clean-up efforts a certain theme and look. As we’ve done for past clean-ups, we’ll be selecting the winning posters and placing those posters around the City to help remind people that we all have a part to play in keeping our community clean.

In addition to individual volunteers, we encourage church families and youth groups to take part by focusing on the neighborhoods immediately surrounding their churches. Too many times, congregations come to church on a Sunday or Saturday as the case may be, but these congregations have less connection than perhaps they should have with their neighborhoods.

One way to demonstrate care for their mission might be to use the communit clean-up as an opportunity to move through the neighborhoods picking up litter, but also knocking on doors and greeting neighbors.

Going forward, we are hoping to utilize resources from the Urban Enterprise Zone program to fund a “Clean-Team” initiative that would focus on our downtown and gateways into the community. We also invite our businesses and merchant base to participate by being part of our manpower on clean-up day or providing resources to help fund our efforts.

So whether you come as part of a church group, with co-workers, as a family, or solo, we’ll be delighted to see you participate. Children are always welcome but need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Because we’re still in a time of quarantines and pandemics, face masks will be required and social distancing will be in order when possible and practical.

My hope is that we’ll have an even larger group than we had last year. The end result matters and that result is cleaner streets, but there’s more to it. It has to do with community spirit, which is elusive and often hard to define. You know it when you see it. These days it looks like groups of residents picking up trash and litter city-wide on a Saturday on the cusp of spring. And if we can do that, we’ll be doing something.