TIMMINS -- While Thanksgiving weekend hopes to bring families together in this tumultuous time, the Living Space shelter looked to do the same by continuing its annual 'Fall Community Cleanup' event.

With winter approaching, staff and volunteers say city litter will inevitably be buried underneath, unless people pitch in to keep problem areas clean.

"There's lots of garbage everywhere," said the shelter's harm reduction manager, Ashley Mathew.

"People are still littering, unfortunately, so it needs to be done."

Building a sense of community

The event kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, with a mix of families and individuals dropping by the shelter to pick up garbage bags, tongs, needle disposal kits and to be assigned a high-priority area to clean.

As people work to stay safe from COVID-19, Mathew said people also need to come together to care for their city streets.

"It gives us a sense of community and it shows the community that we all need to work together to keep it clean, whether COVID's here or not," Mathew said.

Rick Cecconi used to run a city cleanup organization called 'Timmins Get Clean' and still participates in local initiatives like the fall cleanup.

Over the four years his organization was operational until 2010, volunteers picked up around 16 tonnes of trash, which he said is eye-opening to how much garbage can pile up if ignored.

For Cecconi, the amount of trash accumulated in areas like Gillies Lake and the nearby plaza is disheartening, given the effort volunteers put in trying to maintain them.

"This is an area that is littered all the time," he said.

"(Customers) from Tim Horton's, they park their vehicles here, they just dump their garbage and their ash trays full of cigarettes butts here. It's terrible."

'Come out and clean up the litter'

Cecconi feels the city should put more pressure on businesses to clean the areas around their buildings. Otherwise, he said everyone else needs to do their part as well.

"Unless the volunteers are out cleaning up and committed to having a clean city, the city's not going to get cleaned up," Cecconi said.

"It's important for organizations to have these cleanups and for people to volunteer, come out and clean up the litter."

And being the season of giving thanks, Mathew said this is the opportunity to put words to action.

"It's giving thanks to the land and by keeping it clean, I think we do that," said Mathew.

"It's a little bit of a celebration for Thanksgiving."