Their goal is simply to make a difference, one piece of litter at a time.
The College of Education’s Making A Difference Project partnered with Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary School in North Philadelphia and held a localized cleanup effort in conjunction with the citywide push by Mayor Michael Nutter.
“We are very much about the community and community involvement” said David Baugh, principal at Duckrey Elementary.
Duckrey Elementary is one of four schools in the area associated with the College of Education’s MAD Project.
The city put out a request for a school in the area to host a local cleaning effort, and Duckrey accepted the offer. Volunteers from FOX29 and Bank of America also came out to help with the activities.
Tiffany Tavarez, the assistant director of Alumni Affairs at Temple, said when she received an overwhelming response from people who wanted to participate in the event, she suggested that the College of Education join the effort.
“It is good to be working on the grassroots level,” Tavarez said.
Dixie Roane brought her entire fencing team from Strath Haven Middle School in Wallingford, Pa.
“I’m teaching them to just give back and learn what it means to be a good citizen,” Roane said.
Freeman Miller lives on North Carlisle Street and said he enjoys living and working in North Philadelphia because of its diversity.
“It is a wonderful booster shot,” Miller said of the project. “It is great of Nutter to ask everyone to clean up and start thinking positive. It is a way to kick off a new city and a new attitude.”
After a briefing from Baugh, the auditorium packed with more than 100 people headed out into the hallway while volunteers were given new brooms, shovels and trash bags provided by the city.
Eager kids started sweeping everything in sight once they walked out the front doors. Every alleyway along Diamond Street between 15th and 17th streets were filled with people hunched over, picking up garbage, shoveling dirt or transporting filled bags of trash to the curb.
Lauren Chandler, who lives on French Street, was at a deli while the volunteers started their work.
“It is nice to see an array of people come into my neighborhood and do this,” Chandler said.
But not everyone shared Chandler’s view.
“It’s a crazy area,” said Al Jones, who lives on 16th and Diamond streets. “It’s good you’re cleaning up, but is this going to be a Temple block or our block?
“Temple kids are all around here, partying and leaving their s—,” Jones said as he sat on his front steps across from Duckrey Elementary, watching the numerous volunteers clean the opposite side of the street.
The long-term effects of this one day were doubted by many. Rachel Horning is a photojournalism major at Messiah College, which has a satellite campus at Broad and Diamond streets. She said she wasn’t sure if the cleaned streets would stay.
“Honestly, it will get cleaned up today, but will be like this again in a year,” Horning said.
Skinika St. Cyr runs the after-school programs at Duckrey Elementary and lives in the area.
“It is nice to see the Temple students, but there should be more community members here. If they worked to clean up, they would work to keep it clean,” St. Cyr said.
The blocks directly around Duckrey Elementary saw an immediate change as the bags of trash started to pile up next to the telephone poles on the corners, but only one block past the designated area, a vacant lot held its fair share of trash.
Nutter’s plan may seem too ambitious to some, but those involved wanted to try it anyway.
“I have hope for Philadelphia,” senior communications major Marissa Coyne said, “and I’m happy to see things like this can actually happen.”
Greg Adomaitis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.