PENINSULA, Ohio — Volunteers from two local youth groups teamed up to clean up parts of the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula Sunday.
They removed beer cans, bottles and even a license plate.
“We’re just basically picking up a lot of trash,” said Usama Awan with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Group.
“Thankfully we got quite a bit of support from the people running on the trails. They’re pretty appreciative of what we’re doing out here,” Awan said.
The groups want to help keep their community clean during the partial government shutdown, because federal employees are not working in the national parks.
They filled eight garbage bags of trash and litter in the first two hours.
“We decided we need to take action in our hands and this is the responsibility of every one of us because we live in the world together, so why not help out with the environment?” said Tahir Butt with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Group.
The groups said trash cans at the visitor center were not as bad as they had expected after seeing pictures of overflowing garbage cans at National Parks around the country.
Awan said they not only want to clean up debris, but there are two other messages they want to send.
The first message: not all youth are glued to video games and their smartphones.
“So, we wanted to encourage youth, especially in the community at large, to do this kind of stuff,” Awan said.
Gabriel Matos with the Kids of Cleveland Youth Organization agrees.
“We just want to show the youth what it means to give back to the community and we have a civic duty to everybody, our community and especially nature. Nature gives us everything and we just wanted to give back to Mother Nature,” Matos said.
Secondly, the group wants to shed an accurate and positive light on the Muslim community and Islam to combat certain stereotypes that are not representative.
“Islam is about peace and taking care of the community you live in and being a productive member of the community,” Awan said.
The volunteer groups also organize blood drives, food drives and help the homeless.