Volunteers across city come together to clean trash, cover 15 miles of Chicago streets

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicagoans came together across the city Saturday with the mission of cleaning up trash.

The cleanup event went from Washington Park to the Magnificent Mile.

Olivia, 3, and her mother, Michelle Urdal-Koza, pitched in with the a neighborhood community group, Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, to collect pollution in their neighborhood.

"I wanted to show her it is important to help out the community, and she talks about seeing trash on the ground and why people do it, so I want her to participate in it," Urdal-Koza said.

Organizers said volunteers are covering 15 miles of Chicago streets.

"Starting in the South Loop, going through Grant Park, Washington Park, River North Residents Association and the Magnificent Mile Association," said Deborah Gershvein, SOAR president.

Gershvein hopes the new collaboration will kick start renewed community interaction.

"It's been a long, hard winter, and we thought it would be a great day to get out and clean up, and get the residents together to feel comfortable, venturing out again," Gershvein said.

"Especially with weather getting better and everything, and I can see everyone's been more upbeat these days," Urdal-Koza said.

Organizers look to provide comfort after a year marked by the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and violent unrest downtown.

"There's been a lot this past year that separated us, and this is our coming together," said Deb Rowland, Go4th South Loop.

Volunteers spread out on Saturday to make the city even more beautiful.

"There will be trash, there will be fast food wrappers, there will be bottles, there will be cans, there'll be empty plastic bags, there'll be cigarette butts everywhere," Gershvein said.

Gershvein said cigarette butts are especially concerning, particularly when they get into the water.

"They get into the lake, and then the fish and the birds feed on them and they're toxic," Gershvein said.
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