PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Earth Day celebrations continued in Central Illinois on Saturday, April 23, with events across Peoria.
The National Great American Clean Up event and Earth Day Festival at Forest Park Nature Center worked to clean up the city’s neighborhoods, educate people, and bring the community closer together.
The clean-ups started in the morning at 20 different locations across Peoria.
Hundreds of volunteers worked in the city streets to clean up litter, and people were able to come dump trash and yard waste at each site in dumpsters provided by the city.
East Bluff Community Center saw at least fifty volunteers come to help beautify the East Bluff neighborhood. Kari Jones, executive director of the center, said it’s a great opportunity for people to get out, meet each other, and work towards improving the health and safety of their neighborhood.
“We want to work together to have pride in the neighborhood, beautify the neighborhood,” Jones said. “When we have these kind of days, people don’t feel alone in their effort.”
Joe Dulin, the City of Peoria’s Director of Community Development, was there to lend a hand in the clean-up. He said events like these are important.
“The impact blight and litter has in the community, it’s declining property values, multiple studies show it increases violence, it increases crime,” Dulin said. “Just having safe, healthy, nice neighborhoods is incredibly valuable to the city of Peoria.”
At Forest Park Nature Center’s Earth Day Festival, the community was able to shop local, sustainable vendors, enjoy guided hikes, and learn from environmental organizations.
Kristi Shoemaker, Peoria Park District Chief Naturalist, said it’s an initiative to also educate people about why they should care for the environment.
“There is something that everybody can do in their own lives, swap out, to make themselves more environmentally friendly in their daily business, and so we want to give people the resources to do that,” Shoemaker.
Shoemaker said she hopes people left the event appreciating nature and feeling inspired to work together to protect it.
“If it’s just one person they can make an impact, right,” Shoemaker said. “But the impact gets multiplied for as many people as you have onboard, so we need the whole community to be doing something because then we can really make something great happen.”