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Latino community steps up to clean city streets Saturday

Charlotte Latinos and supporters of the immigrant community will gather Saturday to stage a cleanup for Charlotte streets. The above photo is from one of the past road cleanups. The event was organized by Jesus Ministry, a local Latino advocacy group.
Charlotte Latinos and supporters of the immigrant community will gather Saturday to stage a cleanup for Charlotte streets. The above photo is from one of the past road cleanups. The event was organized by Jesus Ministry, a local Latino advocacy group. mi gente newspaper

Hundreds of people from Charlotte’s Hispanic community will line the city’s streets Saturday as part of an annual cleanup project aimed at thanking the city they now call home.

Six hundred volunteers are expected to take part in the 10th annual citywide cleanup organized by the nonprofit Jesus Ministry.

Teams will spread across 20 of the city’s most highly traveled streets and highways, said Maudia Melendez, head of Jesus Ministry. She says the group intends to send a message that the Latino community cares about Charlotte.

“This city is like our house, and we don’t want to live in a dirty house,” says Melendez, who came up with the idea in 2007. “We need to love the city we live in, and that includes teaching people to keep it clean.”

The city and Department of Transportation are partnering with Jesus Ministry on the project. Among the streets chosen are South Boulevard, Central Avenue, Sugar Creek Road and Sharon-Amity Road.

Teams will be out from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Afterward, they will converge at Statesville Road Baptist Church for a festival, which is a new addition to the program. Melendez says it was created in part because the annual gathering has become increasingly popular as a day of fellowship for the Latino community and its supporters. The festival is open only to those participating in the cleanup.

“Many of the people participating this year have been part of it in the past,” she says. “I began it at a time when there was a lot of persecution in the immigrant community and morale was low for the people. Turn out was so good, people made a lot of friends, and so we actually did it twice that first year. This is actually the 11th time we’ll be having the cleanup.”

The event has also expanded over the years to include members of congregations that are supportive of the city’s Latino community. All volunteers are welcome, Melendez said.

Want to help?

Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday at Statesville Road Baptist Church, 4901 Statesville Road, then break up into teams and spread across Charlotte. Details: 704-532-8703.

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