Spring Cleaning Means Making a Difference On Northside


Marijke Hecht stood a few feet away from the curb and raised her hand to shield herself from the sun. She was coordinating the planting of yet another tree in Brightwood, one of the 20 volunteers would be planting that day.

“This kind of tree is called a Tatarian Maple,” Hecht said in response to a volunteer question. “It will probably live for 25 years in this location.”

The volunteers were youth from the neighborhood and Allegheny Youth Development, as well as adult residents of Brightwood. The trees are part of a greening effort called “TreeVitalize” and the entire effort was just one of many environment and neighborhood oriented activities to take place Saturday, April 25.

From litter cleanup in Summer Hill and Brighton Heights, to tree planting in Brightwood and mulching in East Allegheny, children and adults alike came out to help beautify their communities. Hecht said that children and youth who help plant trees have a vested interest in them and help maintain them.

“What’s best about this is that these kids will have an investment in the trees,” Hecht said. “They will keep them safe and no hurt them.”

Brian Foltz, from Allegheny Youth Development, said that “we want to see these guys take ownership of their community.” He said that helping out in the community by planting trees or picking up litter builds leadership skills and instills pride in their community.

Ken Hale, from the Woodland/Shadeland block watch, a part of the Brightwood Civic Group, said that the tree planting in that area was just a piece of a larger effort that included more than 24 trees last year and 50 trees this year.

A large number of volunteers were joining in as part of Urban Impact, and a group of students from Grove City Alliance Church traveled to Pittsburgh to help mulch empty lots in East Allegheny.

Sarah Hoobler was one of the adults who accompanied the children on their trip. She said that this effort was not only about helping out, but about demonstrating Christian values and love of Jesus.

“I think it teaches them how to give back to the community and to work together and use their time not just to help themselves,” Hoobler said. “By giving back we are also showing our love of Jesus.”

Members of the community groups came out too, and in East Allegheny, a lot on east Ohio Street, trees along North Avenue, and a lot on Pressley Street were all prime targets. Cleanups were planned in Summer Hill, Brighton Heights, Spring Garden, Spring Hill and in many other neighborhoods on the Northside.

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