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Volunteers on a mission to restore hope in St. Louis neighborhoods with clean-up effort

ST. LOUIS – It's considered a crime-fighting effort. On Saturday morning, more than a thousand neighborhood residents and volunteers equipped with bulldozers and chainsaws will be working to revitalize a low-income neighborhood in an effort to restore pride and hope in north St. Louis City.

It's all part of a project called Operation Clean Sweep organized by Better Family Life. The idea is to go into some of the most challenged neighborhoods to clean up vacant properties in order to help fight crime.

Some north St. Louis residents said they feel a new sense of hope and the potential for a neighborhood renewal, as utility crews were out Friday so work crews could begin to tear down old vacant homes.

“We are taking out the vacant homes to help beautify. We want the beauty to be an incentive to get back to what the neighborhoods used to be like,” said resident Jarel Williams.

Volunteers will demolish various vacant buildings as well as clean-up overgrown vegetation.

“We think that it’s important that St. Louis take a deeper dive that we begin to bring resources to bring life and spirit and energy back into the most hard-hit areas,” said James Clark, VP of Community Outreach of Better Family Life.

Resident Lisa Abbott said she’s been living next to a house in the 4800 block of Cote Brillante that's been vacant for 40 years. That home will now be demolished.

“It just scares me because all the drugs (and) stuff that goes on here,” Abbott said. “The shootings and people running from one block over to the next block to get away or running from police. This is a blessing to have it cleaned up.”

Operation Clean Sweep is one of the largest clean-up efforts in St. Louis City history.

“Clean Sweep reminds St. Louis that we have to focus on those that have the least. We must lift up St. Louis from the bottom,” Clark said.

Operation Clean Sweep
Saturday, July 28 at 7 a.m.
Penrose/ Kingsway East neighborhoods
Meet-up: Northside Community School, 3033 N. Euclid Ave.

Order of Events
7 a.m. - Arrival
7:30 a.m. - Registration
8 a.m. - Welcome
8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Clean Sweep
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. - Lunch
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Wind Down Rally