MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens spent Saturday in the hot sun cleaning up Orange Mound.
Volunteers said Saturday morning's beautification celebrated a 125-year history of the neighborhood, but the mission also kicked off a citywide initiative to clean up the Bluff City, called Memphis Clean by 2019.
Memphians were out in the field since 7:30 a.m., and there was no lack of trash to pick up.
“What haven’t we picked up?" said Robert Tunstall, a volunteer from Mount Moriah Baptist Church. "Glass, bottles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, things you don’t want to handle with bare hands."
Armed with gloves and a beaming spirit of city pride, dozens of Memphians hit the streets on a hot Saturday picking up what others tossed out in Orange Mound.
“You feel sorry for the people who do that because if you do that, you don't know who you are," Tunstall said. "If you know who you are, you take care of you."
The volunteers are all part of a new initiative called Memphis Clean by 2019. Spearheaded by the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, the mission is to target every Memphis neighborhood one by one and make Memphis one of the cleanest U.S. cities over the next few years.
“We’re trying to do a culture shift and teach the kids in middle schools and elementary schools to really change that thought process,” said Colliers International CEO Andy Cates, who is also a member of the Chamber.
Cates said change won’t take place overnight, and everyone needs to get involved. Cates said he truly believes for Memphis to grow and have more jobs for families, it has to happen street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.
“There’s no difference between the business community and the community," Cates said. "We’re all in this together, right?”
Teenagers, adults, business owners and city leaders all worked toward the goal Saturday.
“We’ve all collaborated to make this valuable to every group that’s affected by blight, crime and the lack of cleanliness in our community,” Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said.
"If Orange Mound fails, East Memphis fails, Germantown fails, Collierville fails,” Tunstall said.
The next Memphis Clean by 2019 event will be held in November. Organizers have not nailed down which Memphis neighborhood they will head to next.