A new citywide initiative has called on civic-minded Chicagoans to help clean up the city’s beloved parks — particularly necessary given the recent storm damage to trees. The park cleanup effort lists organized events, including an Aug. 29 gathering at Logan Square’s Kosciuszko Park (2732 N. Avers Ave.), and offers supplies for volunteer-organized outings at any city park.
The effort, called Pitch in for the Parks, comes from the nonprofit Chicago Parks Foundation (CPF), in partnership with the Chicago Park District and other civic-minded groups across the city.
“Over the past few months, park resources and seasonal staff have been stretched thin,” the CPF website says. “There are 600+ parks throughout Chicago, and they all need us to pitch in!”
While the initiative encourages group volunteer efforts focused on specific parks, the Pitch in for the Parks website also lists larger cleanups looking for volunteers across the city. Logan Square’s Unity Park (2636 N. Kimball Ave.) isn’t listed yet, but a lot of parks in central Chicago could use some TLC — especially after the recent storm, with so many people already needing to step up to clear away broken branches and felled trees. In addition to the Kosciuszko event, on Saturday, Aug. 29 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., nearby Humboldt Park (1400 N. Sacramento Ave.) has a recurring event on Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Unity Park has long conducted its own gardening and cleanup event, UPAC Gardens, with members meeting Wednesdays 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. at the park.
The CPF initiative invites community groups, corporate teams and interested individuals to participate in the season-long voluntary effort.
The Chicago Park District is eager to accept volunteers looking to “adopt” a park. Though the 2020 city budget received an increase of $1 billion from 2019, a lot of those extra dollars will go to city pension funds, and the hiring of seasonal employees has decreased.
The CPF is working with the Park District and neighborhoods across Chicago to provide trash pick-up supplies, volunteer coordination and safety guidelines to support ongoing park maintenance this summer.
More Than 1,000 Volunteers Help Out
According to the CPF press release, since July 22, more than 1,000 people have volunteered for Pitch in for the Parks and nearly 60 park advisory councils, local businesses and community organizations have stepped up to adopt parks.
“Pitch in for the Parks shifts the stewardship opportunity back to the communities so they can build a stronger sense of pride and ownership of their parks by helping to keep them clean while modeling giving back to others,” said Willa Iglitzen Lang, executive director of CPF. “When you invest in a park, you are investing in the communities who love and use them. And for that, we say thank you!”
CPF launched in 2013 as the nonprofit partner of the Chicago Park District, but it remains an independent organization. The foundation brings community goals to fruition by raising funds and promoting awareness for park projects across the city for more than 70 local park advisory councils.
Pitch in for the Parks is supported in part by the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Association of Realtors, with in-kind support from the Boxed Water Is Better beverage company.
Volunteers can learn more and get involved online at chicagoparksfoundation.org/pitch-in. Safety guidelines are aligned with the Chicago Park District’s response to COVID-19 and the latest City of Chicago information, CPF says.
Featured photo: The Silverman Group Inc.