Last Tuesday, I tagged along with the Youth Center on a community service project. We were tasked with taking the kids across the street to the Harrisburg Cemetery and picking up trash in preparation for the walking tours coming up on Saturday. This was initiated through “2 Minute Tuesday,” an effort to encourage Harrisburg residents to take time every Tuesday to pick up litter in their neighborhoods.
It started out okay. The kids were understandably wound up and excited to be outside on the first nice day of the year (while also a little spooked by the graves!). After breaking up into groups, we spread out throughout the cemetery with garbage bags in search of litter.
Although our time in the cemetery was fairly productive, the most amazing thing happened after the “official” clean-up time was over. The reluctant picking up of a few candy-wrappers turned into a full-fledged clean-up operation when the kids realized how completely covered in litter our path back to the Youth Center was along 15th Street!
That block has been covered in a carpet of litter for as long as I can remember and many of the kids walk past it every day on the way to and from school, or to pick up snacks from the near-by corner store. Our newly enthusiastic team kicked into action! They found four lighters, a full hot sausage jar, and half of a car bumper amid the sea of chip bags, candy wrappers and soda bottles.
We may have been late getting back to the Youth Center for dinner, but we filled up those trash bags so full that we could barely carry them! That block has never been cleaner! The kids really taught themselves the importance of taking care of their community by opening up their eyes to noticing the things they’ve been walking by every day. I’d call that a successful community service project!