CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - Volunteers from all over Illinois worked in the streets of Cairo on Thursday, July 20.
It's a Cairo Community Clean Up Day, an initiative to beautify the city.
Seventeen-year-old Jason Edmunds and his youth church group, Youthworks, traveled more than six hours from Libertyville, Ill. to volunteer in Cairo on a mission trip. Youthworks is a short term mission group through churches, with sites nationwide.
Edmunds explained the similarity between the people where he is from and in Cairo.
"People are people," he said. "They might live in a different part of the state, but they are still similar to us."
"I just feel that it is important to get out and give back to the community and just try to build relationships in our own state, in Illinois," said Edmunds.
One of the pastors from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Libertyville, Rev. Sally Hanson, explained why they chose Cairo for missionary work.
"We wanted to engage with the community in our own state ..have a chance to serve those around us in the name of Christ and to share our love," Hanson said. "God is clearly at work here in Cairo and we wanted to come and be a part of it."
Even though Thursday was one of the hottest days of the summer, more than 50 volunteers from all over Illinois came out to help with the cleanup in Cairo.
The organizer, Marcella Woodson-Ursery, explained the purpose behind this mission.
"The biggest thing that we want to accomplish is just showing the community the difference that it can make in our mentalities to dwell upon a clean community," Woodson-Ursery said. "It's bigger than cleaning up. It's a whole mentality shift that has to take place."
Woodson-Ursery has roots in Cairo. She has been gone from Cairo for 32 years, but she just moved back one month ago to be with her 93-year-old grandmother.
Hanson understands the roots and history of Cairo.
"They've just had some situations that have not gone in their favor and it's time for them to have a win," she said.
She also explained some of the duties on Thursday.
"We've been painting. We have been building," she said. "We have been raking, we have been doing yard work, and just beautifying Cairo to what the heart of it really is."
The organizer looked ahead to Cairo's brighter days.
"We have to bring the sunshine back," she said. "We gotta bring the sunshine back and it has to start somewhere."
The next event is tentatively planned for Thursday, July 27. Visit their facebook page for the details.