A Difference You Can See


The chill and gloom of a bitter—winterish—fall day failed to keep more than 50 volunteers away as COMBAT held a neighborhood clean-up effort Tuesday (Oct. 30) in the blocks surrounding Central High School in Kansas City.

The helping hands and heavy equipment helped brighten up the neighborhood. Just check out all the before and after photos in the slideshows on this page.

"I can't thank everyone enough for coming out on a day when you might have, otherwise, just wanted to stay inside because of the weather," said COMBAT Director Vince Ortega. "This was one of the largest groups of volunteers we've ever had for one of these clean-ups."

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker emphasized that the area for the clean-up was selected because of the school: "The kids in this neighborhood shouldn't have to  step through trash to get to school."

The volunteers included Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett, Legislative aides and these following agencies receiving COMBAT funding: Benilde Hall, Matties Rhodes Center, Healing House, Comprehensive Mental Health and 12th Street Heritage. Other organizations that sent out volunteers were St. Paul's School, Blue Springs Schools and Truman Medical Center.

Prior to Tuesday's event, Ortega cited the importance of cleaning up trash to help clean-up crime. "According to The Broken Windows Theory, all it takes is a little trash on the ground to signal an open invitation for criminal activity in your neighborhood,” he said. In 1982 social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling introduced the theory that a single broken window in a building will lead to more windows being broken, more vandalism, more anti-social behavior and more crime.

Conversely, clean-up efforts like the one COMBAT and the Prosecutor’s Office sponsored this week can reverse the trends Wilson and Kelling observed nearly 40 years ago.