Starting in September 2019, the members of one of our serve opportunities have been picking up trash in our "Adopt-A-Block" community every week. When people hear about what we’re doing, they always wonder- why? Some people think we’re fulfilling our community service hours. Other people think we’re getting paid to do it.
We didn’t start Adopt-A-Block to look really cool and impress people with the work we’re doing. It was started to serve our community.
So why do we pick up trash?
Let me tell you:
1. No one wants to do it.
No one wants to live in a dirty community either. Littering is a sign that people don’t care, and it’s discouraging and it adds to the burdens they’re already facing. No one wants to walk out their door, and see garbage in their yard, on their sidewalk, under their car, or in the bushes. Picking it up is a small thing that makes a big difference in how people feel about their community.
2. It creates ownership.
Since we’ve started, other people who live in the community have expressed interest in what we’re doing. They’ve expressed the desire to help, they’ve thanked us, and they’ve offered explanations of why the litter gets so bad. When they see someone who doesn’t live there care about what’s going on in their neighborhood, they are grateful and encouraged. It’s bringing their attention to the community as well and creating opportunities for them to help.
3. It communicates presence.
By showing up and doing the things that no one wants to do in a community, we get the opportunity to build rapport with those people. When they see us showing up week after week, rain or shine, they understand that we’re reliable. They also understand that we aren’t just “saying” we care, but that we’re putting actions to our words. Once we’ve built rapport they’re more likely to talk to us about what else their community truly needs. No one wants to talk to a stranger, but they’re more willing to open up to people they are familiar with, and who they’ve seen already making an effort to help.
4. For people.
At the end of the day, the world will never be completely clean. Even if the cleanliness of the neighborhood improves (and we’ve seen some improvement since we’ve begun), we don’t do it for the sake of trash. We do it for the sake of people. People matter. They matter to God and they matter to us. It’s the unglamorous acts, the little ways we lay our lives down, that make the most impact on people in the long run. So in short, we pick up trash to impact people.
So if you’re wondering why, the simple reason is this- we saw the need, and we became the solution. To date we’ve picked up 2,166 gallons of litter. This is within the same couple of blocks in the same community.
This is our community, and we're willing to do whatever it takes.