Thousands of volunteers participate in clean-up for 32nd Chicago River Day

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Saturday, May 11, 2024
Thousands participate in clean-up for 32nd Chicago River Day
Friends of the Chicago River said more than 2,500 volunteers are participating in the 32nd Chicago River Day clean-up.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The sun shined on a glistening Chicago River as volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got dirty for cause that unifies all of us.

"We're picking up litter. We're picking up big trash. We're picking up tiny trash, everything in between," said volunteer site captain Christina Donley.

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Saturday marked the 32nd Chicago River Day, organized by Friends of the Chicago River, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing communities across Chicagoland together to keep our waterways clean.

Donley is the volunteer site coordinator for the clean-up at Chicago's Canal Origins Park on the Southwest Side.

"The trash that we're picking up, we're able to take it, make sure it gets disposed of properly. That keeps it out of the ecosystem, so it keeps it out of the food chain," Donley said.

Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie says more than 2,500 volunteers are donated time on Saturday to pick up trash throughout the river.

"People are coming out of the woodwork to help us today. It's fantastic," Frisbie said.

From the far north suburbs to the south suburbs and everywhere in-between, teams of people have been working together to make a difference at 87 different locations.

"The river itself is 156 miles long. We have people in Lake Forest. We have people in the Calumet region. We have people in Oak Lawn. We have people in Palos and then all over the city of Chicago, so literally, the entire river is covered by volunteers that rolled up their sleeves to come out and help," Frisbie said.

Volunteer LeeAnn Tomas-Foster cleaned up with her work colleagues.

"I can't even tell you the volume I've seen out not just on the shore, but all the way down to some of the micro things that are along the shoreline, a lot of fish line," Tomas-Foster said.

One trash bag at a time, the Chicago River is getting the TLC it deserves.