An army of volunteers invaded the Whitman Park neighborhood of Camden Wednesday with brooms, shovels, and environmentally friendly trash bags for the city's final neighborhood cleanup of the summer.
During the last three months, 1,400 volunteers have worked to clear trash from 7 targeted neighborhoods as part of the Camden Clean Campaign.
"We definitely cleaned over 144 vacant lots, cleaned and greened them to beautify the neighborhood, and we're continuing with our mural arts program with the very simple message to keep Camden clean," Camden Mayor Dana Redd said.
Mayor Redd and hundreds of others, both neighborhood residents and volunteers from neighbor organizations, did their part.
"A lot of times people say that people in this community don't want to better it, but that's not true," Osaze Gray of the Comprehensive Center for Fathers said.
"We just want to help clean up and make it better," Christina Nieves of the Hope Community Center said.
City trash trucks removed the collected refuse and city police kept a watchful eye.
The Camden Clean Campaign this summer cost the city little. A $30,000 donation from PNC and Wachovia Wells Fargo was used to buy equipment and the labor, of course, was all voluntary.
"I see the community members coming out of their houses and thanking us, picking up rakes and shovels and becoming part of the community cleanup; I think it really is making a difference," Kimberly Walker of the Adventure Aquarium said.
Resident Mary Jackson says she's ailing and couldn't help, but watched with delight this clean up activity.
"It was really bad, but to look out here today, I really appreciate being alive to see it," Jackson said.
There are plans to continue cleanup and rural arts programs throughout the fall in an effort to keep up the momentum. The mayor says this cleanup effort has been so successful she expects it to return next summer.