LANSING, Mich. —
A volunteer effort called PickUpLansing met Sunday afternoon at Arcadia Smokehouse on Michigan Avenue in Lansing to pick up litter.
The group collected roughly eight bags of trash in two hours.
Michael McCallum and Omar Karim co-founded PickUpLansing in May of 2020.
“Both of us had met up and were talking about, you know, kind of commiserating about the pandemic and everything – trying not to be couch potatoes through that tough time, and getting out and walking, trying to get some exercise, but also seeing the mass amount of trash and garbage on the streets of Lansing,” McCallum said.
McCallum and Karim started to schedule Facebook events in August so others could join their bi-weekly pick-ups. They started at the Capitol and worked their way east through the city, picking up trash until December when it became too cold.
McCallum said they “picked it back up – pun intended – once the weather started warming back up. It’s a bi-weekly thing that we keep doing, and we’ve been able to get I’m going to guess at this point 150 plus bags of trash, which is pretty good, instead of on our streets.”
Each pick-up event is from noon to 2 p.m. and ends with lunch and drinks at a local restaurant.
“One of our volunteers made a great comment, Mary Cusack, she said, ‘You know it’s funny that picking up garbage and crap for a couple hours you feel so much better.’ And you really do, but an added incentive to it was also the sense of community that it gave us. It wasn’t just about going out and picking up litter and trash, it was also about reconnecting with some old friends through this tough time and then meeting new people as well that have become really close near, dear friends. And then we try to go out afterward – like we’ll be here at Arcadia afterward – get some food, have some drinks, kind of talk about the day,” McCallum said.
When the project started, McCallum said, there were about three volunteers. Now, they see anywhere from 15 to more than 20.
“Not all of them make it out each and every time, but now in our Facebook group, which is PickUpLansing – Movement if you’re interested in joining, we have 265 members,” McCallum said.
Lansing local Tony Amirante has been a volunteer since the second pick-up event last May.
“Well, I enjoy doing it but I also like helping the city,” Amirante said. “I figure if we’re doing this it’s kind of like, less things for like the city-people to worry about. It’s like, ‘Hey, we got this for you guys. You guys got other stuff to worry about,’ you know?”
Community members have donated trash-grabbers and bags, and McCallum said they are now working on T-shirts.
His goal is for the effort to spread across Michigan.
“Get some friends together, get some family together, get some neighbors together, maybe that you know or don’t know,” McCallum said. “Get out there, help that movement happen. Help keep our city and our cities and our state clean.”
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