ST. LOUIS – Cleaning up neighborhoods in an effort to build them up: It’s a plan the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is putting in place to make them safer for everyone.

Three-time world boxing champion Devon Alexander joined the Urban League and others Thursday morning to promote the “Clean Up, Build Up” campaign and an upcoming cleanup event this Saturday.

“To be honest, these belts right here mean nothing [compared to] the work you’re about to do for this neighborhood,” says Alexander, born and raised in St. Louis.

“Clean Up, Build Up,” previously known as Clean Sweep, is a neighborhood revitalization initiative through which construction workers, neighborhood stakeholders, and volunteers from the region demolish vacant properties beyond repair and clear vacant lots and alleys around the City of St. Louis.

On Thursday, representatives from the Regional Business Council and Spire also joined Alexander and the Urban League in north St. Louis to build interest.

“‘Clean Up, Build Up,’ was the idea of an 87-year-old woman named Ms. Jones,” says James Clark with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. “She called us and said, ‘I have a problem in my neighborhood with overgrown trees, derelict cars in alleys, vacant and abandoned buildings.  I’ve called my alderman and the police. Is there anything you can do?'”

Leaders also unveiled a painting of former longtime community member Otis Woodard ahead of Saturday’s cleanup event.

“To see what’s taking place today with everyone coming together in the community to keep people safe and to make it beautiful,” says Otis Woodard. “The murals of my father and the other big members of the community to be placed in the community, so people can see their vision is really not forgotten about.” 

For the big cleanup event Saturday, registration begins between 8-9 a.m., and then work begins installing motion cameras, giving out free gun locks, and an art board-up project. Lunch will be provided to volunteers on Saturday.

In addition to the cleanup efforts, Narcan will be distributed, and officials working with residents on de-escalating conflicts. 

For more information on the event, check out the slideshow below: