Hundreds of volunteers for the latest Clean Sweep in the College Hill neighborhood

ST. LOUIS – To bring hope and spirit to at-risk neighborhoods, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has partnered with the Regional Business Council and the City of St. Louis for Operation Clean Sweep.

It is considered one of the city’s biggest cleanup efforts.

Hundreds of volunteers were in the College Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning, dedicating their time to clearing vacant structures and overgrown vegetation.

“I’m ready to cry because I’ve never seen so many volunteers a day in my life in North St. Louis in this room, ready to tear it down so we can rebuild it. So thank you very much for being here, ”said John Collins-Muhammed, 21st Ward councilor.

And it’s a huge collaborative effort.

“The Regional Business Council – through its construction companies which include Fred Weber, Keely, McCarthy and others, has committed over $ 5 million in labor hours and equipment over the past few years to make a clean slate of what it is, ”said James Clark, vice president of public safety at Urban League.

Ten vacant and dilapidated buildings were demolished.

For volunteer Donnell Craig, it’s more than helping clean up and revitalize a neighborhood. He participates in the beautification of his new house.

“For some reason I bought a house here, and now I’m going to be a resident. So I don’t have to travel from Illinois to Missouri anymore, ”said Craig.

“I found this area and I am so happy that the alderman, the deputy and everyone have decided to come and clean up this area which I will now own and which I will be part of.”

Clean Sweep is a neighborhood stabilization effort, which targets what organizers call at-risk neighborhoods with high redevelopment potential and community engagement.

“It’s about building, you know, a better region because we need a quality of life, you know, it’s meaningful,” said Austin Walker, vice president of initiatives and operations, Consulting regional business.

In addition, BJC Health was there to offer free flu shots.

So far this year, volunteers have demolished over 15 abandoned and derelict properties, cleaned up and removed debris from over 10 miles of lanes and streets, and cleared over 20 vacant lots.

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