‘These are our people:’ The Israelites of Peoria pick up litter at Peoria’s Harrison Homes, part of bi-weekly community outreach

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Zekharyahu Watkins said the Israelites of Peoria started as a bible study in his apartment, but it expanded into a group of people who come together for regular bible study and community outreach.

“We’re doing the will of the most high,” Watkins said, “He wants us out here and helping our people the best that we can.”

He said they decided to do neighborhood cleanups as their outreach, and they alternate between where different group members grew up.

On Sunday morning, a handful of members cleaned up litter and garbage at the Harrison Homes apartment complex in Peoria.

“Well we chose neighborhoods that we grew up in,” Watkins said. “This is actually where I grew up, Harrison Homes. It just brings back a lot of good childhood memories.”

He said he wishes the local housing authority did a better job of updating the apartments.

James Hogan III is a member of Israelites of Peoria and said these community outreach projects serve as bonding experiences for the organization, while also helping others. He said starting last year, the group aims to do a neighborhood cleanup every other weekend.

“Anyone, in any walk of life, when your environment is clean, it makes you make less rash decisions,” Hogan said. “Hopefully our efforts in cleaning up the community in different places has a positive effect on it.”

The next neighborhood cleanup is September 26 at Taft Homes. Information can be found on the Facebook Page, and Watkins said anyone is welcome.

“These are our people. We care about our people. We love our people,” Hogan said. “And part of loving someone is loving where they are and that kind of thing.”

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