The New Kensington Community Development Corp. — a nonprofit with a focus on Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond — normally hosts a yearly cleanup day attended by hundreds, followed by a party with food and gallons of beer for participants.
This year, it was forced to try something different after the April 4 event, part of a citywide cleanup, was canceled because of social distancing restrictions. It is one of hundreds of local cleanups that have been canceled or postponed.
“I think that it’s something in general our community looks forward to every year, and it was disappointing when it was postponed,” said Jessica Hoffman, a staff member of the nonprofit who is coordinating the cleanup. “It marks the beginning of springtime and getting outside.”
The event, which would have marked its 25th year, normally ends with a barbecue at the Philadelphia Brewing Co. on Frankford Avenue. Typically, 15 community and school groups participate, filling hundreds of bags of trash.
This year, the barbecue is off, but the organization launched an extended cleanup with social distancing principles on Friday. The group is asking residents and businesses that want to participate to “pick up, sweep up, pretty up, and plant stuff” in front of their homes or on sections of their blocks through Sunday.
The corporation is raffling $10, $20, $50, and $100 gift cards to participants, who can enter by posting before-and-after photos on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #safespringcleanup, and tagging @NKCDC. Those entering will get three chances to win, and the block with the most submissions will also get a prize. (Those not on social media can upload before-and-after cleanup pictures to a Google Doc.)
New Kensington is one of dozens of community development corporations (CDCs) across Philadelphia that work with the city to support local communities, especially those in more challenged neighborhoods.
Hoffman said she had not heard of another CDC carrying out a socially distant cleanup, but said she welcomes anyone to join in.
It’s difficult to track which organizations might also be hosting similar small-scale cleanups, so it’s best to check groups’ websites or Facebook pages.
For example, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership is not holding a single cleanup event, but is encouraging residents to conduct their own.
Julie Slavet, the partnership’s executive director, said her organization, which is not a CDC, is providing cleanup kits upon request to residents within that watershed to keep their block, as well as Tacony Creek Park, clean.
Slavet said she’s handed out about 15 kits so far that come with a Tacony Creek Park bag containing gloves, bags for trash and recycling, a trash picker, a bandanna, and a park map.
The partnership asks that any teams using the kits send photos of the trash they are picking up.
Slavet said she is not planning to host an organized cleanup any time soon, though widespread help is still needed because use of Tacony Creek Park has grown since Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders were issued in April.