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Volunteers Clean Up Around Gem City Market Ahead Of Grand Opening

Outreach coordinator for the Gem City Market Sarah Richard arranges gallon trash bags on a white folding table. There were white gloves, mini water bottles and maps of the surrounding neighborhoods on the table as well. This table was set up for volunteers picking up litter around the market.
Mawa Iqbal
Sarah Richard, outreach coordinator for the Gem City Market, arranges gallon trash bags for volunteers picking up litter around the market Saturday afternoon.

The Gem City Market will open its doors this summer. In preparation, neighborhood group I Love West Dayton joined forces with the market in hosting a cleanup event Saturday morning.

About 120 people canvassed the surrounding neighborhoods for litter. Armed with trash bags and litter pickers, volunteers of all ages collected empty bottles, plastic wrappers, and even rubber tires.

Once their trash bags were full, the volunteers dropped them off at a designated street corner. There, the city of Dayton would collect the bags on Monday morning.

The Gem City Market is a cooperative supermarket opening on the corner of Salem and Superior Avenue in Northwest Dayton. Not only will the market provide fresh food options, but they will also have nutrition classes and a health clinic.

One volunteer is very excited about the market’s opening. Brie Hope is a GCM member who has done Metropark cleanups in the past, but this was her first neighborhood cleanup.

“It’s important to have a grocery store in our area,” Hope said. “So these are great events. I think what I Love West Dayton is doing is very important. We don’t need to live in litter and trash.”

Chaz Amos is the CEO of I Love West Dayton, a nonprofit aimed at beautifying neighborhoods through cleanups and community gardens. Amos says the city has been very cooperative with the group’s clean up efforts, like providing them with dump trucks to remove larger trash.

“This is us meeting the city halfway and saying, ‘hey, we know that you can't handle it all, so let us try and help you,'” Amos said.

The city installedadditional surveillance cameras at illegal dumping “hot spots” in 2019. There were 13 convictions for illegal dumping in 2020.

However, the work is far from done, says Amos. He is hoping to work with the city on implementing an ordinance that would create a legal dumping site in Dayton.

“Children grow up here, children play here,” Amos said. “People don't understand that that small piece of trash that they dump, it contributes to a larger picture across the community.”

The group will host regular clean up events every Saturday from June through August.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.