Posted April 29, 2021

Temple students volunteer for the annual Philly Spring Cleanup

Temple students work together to remove litter, beautify blocks and spruce up shared spaces in North Philadelphia.

Temple students sweeping streets and collecting litter in North Philadelphia.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
On April 10, as part of the annual Philly Spring Cleanup sponsored by the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Streets, Temple students joined together to sweep and pick up trash in their North Philadelphia neighborhood.

More than 30 Temple University student volunteers worked together with local neighbors to gather rubbish and sweep up community spaces in North Philadelphia on Saturday, April 10. It was part of the annual Philly Spring Cleanup, the largest citywide cleanup of the year sponsored by the city’s Department of Streets.

Started in 2008, and recognized by environmental nonprofit Keep America Beautiful as the largest single-day, citywide cleanup in the U.S., the Philly Spring Cleanup is the city’s annual cleaning season kickoff event.

The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but this year, Temple’s Office of Community Relations orchestrated a cleanup team by partnering with Berean Presbyterian Church, Temple football and Temple’s Office of Sustainability

In order to comply with public health protocols and safely ensure physical distancing, the offices of Community Relations and Sustainability recruited a limited number of Temple students to serve as volunteers from a range of organizations, including the Temple football team, Temple University Clean Up Club, Temple University Chemical Society, Temple University Community Service Association, Temple University Public Relations Society of America, and Temple University Sisters in Speech Pathology and Audiology

The volunteers started the day cleaning outside of Berean Presbyterian Church and then separated into smaller groups, where they focused their efforts on Diamond Street from N. Broad to 16th streets, including the perimeter of Tanner Duckrey School.  

Berean Church provided the volunteers with cleaning supplies, including gloves, hand sanitizer, shovels and trash bags, and offered refreshments.

Andrea Swan, director of Temple’s Office of Community Relations, was eager to participate in the annual tradition.

“We chose Diamond Street as our main cleanup site to show our commitment to our neighbors,” said Swan. She said that Diamond Street tends to be a dumping site, so hopefully cleanup efforts there will encourage people in the city to keep those blocks clean.  

“The cleanup definitely creates an opportunity for our neighbors and our students to collaborate on a shared project and show that Temple is committed to our community.” 

Temple’s Director of Sustainability Rebecca Collins agreed. “It is Temple’s hope and priority that students feel integrated into the rich fabric of the diverse North Philadelphia community and make a positive contribution to it as responsible stewards and good neighbors,” she said. “Stewardship events like Philly Spring Cleanup give students opportunities to foster relationships, model sustainable leadership and make our neighborhoods, public spaces, natural lands cleaner, healthier and happier places. 

Sophia Kent, Class of 2021, thinks of North Philly as a second home. “I love North Philly. It’s a community of people that want to help and give back to each other and we are one community at the end of the day,” said Kent, who is majoring in speech, language and hearing science in Temple’s College of Public Health. “I think keeping the city clean is a benefit for both students and the community, for you’re not only doing something good for yourself but also the people around you as well.” 

Kent serves as the president of Temple University Community Service Association, a student organization that acts as a liaison between Temple students and the Philadelphia community, providing members with opportunities to volunteer, build character, make friends and give back to the community.  

Another volunteer was Randle Jones, a graduate student wide receiver for Temple Football and adult and organizational development major in Temple’s College of Education and Human Development. 

“One of our goals at Temple Football is to help out in the community in any way that we can,” said Jones, who wears number 0, an honor awarded by teammates to those recognized as the toughest student-athletes on the team. A Temple football tradition originally instituted in 2009 by then Head Coach Al Golden, the single digit jersey is a tribute to those who represent Temple with pride on the field, in the classroom and in the community.  

“The more students that get involved, the more active we can be with keeping the community clean,” Jones added.

An additional participant was Temple University Chemical Society member Nick Sharpe, a junior biochemistry major in the College of Science and Technology. The chemical society provides the community with opportunities to engage with the sciences through informative events.

“Volunteering means being able to go above and beyond just your normal goal of being a  member of the community,” said Sharpe. “It’s a valuable experience for every student to have ... it broadens your understanding and worldview.”

Members from Temple Service Operations drove a garbage truck to collect the trash bags at 1 p.m., wrapping up the event. 

“If you are a student that comes from outside of the North Philadelphia community, volunteering at cleanups like this one can provide you with a different perspective than you would otherwise get,” said Sharpe.