We began getting ready at 7 a.m., and within minutes of setting up, local residents thanked us for helping clean up the city of Baltimore. Several businesses, from a convenience store to a funeral home, even offered to help.
While our volunteers were inspired to pick up trash, we knew this had to be more than just a Band-Aid. So, we took the opportunity to zip our mouths and listen to the residents. Louise, 81-years-old and 4-foot-10 inches tall, took me by the hand to show me where her neighborhood needs help. She told me how people from outside the city are illegally dumping trash at the “bandos,” or abandoned buildings. Even worse, Louise said that the city only sends a truck once a year to clean out the alleys.
A grandmother ran out to us after seeing reports of the cleanup on the news. She has sent videos of vehicles illegally dumping in the area, but the city has not taken action. I gave her my cell number and promised to post any videos she sends me all over social media so we can combat this illegal trash dumping. I also encouraged her to knock on every one of her neighbors’ doors to tell the city how they feel.
In addition to the grandmother, I promised Louise that we would return. On Monday, Sept. 9, we are coming back to Baltimore for cleanup #2. We would like to cordially invite The Baltimore Sun to join our efforts and help pick up trash.
Thank you to every single volunteer who made the first cleanup such a success. This is simply #AmericansHelpingAmericans.
The writer is a conservative activist who led a cleanup effort in Baltimore earlier this summer.