PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of bags of trash are off the streets of Portland, thanks to nearly 150 volunteers who cleaned up downtown Wednesday.
The event, organized by nonprofit SOLVE Oregon, was already planned, but CEO Kris Carico said the city of Portland worked with the group to focus on certain high-traffic areas ahead of the NCAA tournament at the Moda Center this week.
"Put our best foot forward," Carico said.
Thousands of out-of-town visitors are making their way to the Rose City for March Madness events. They will see Portland for what it is firsthand.
"It's important that they see what a beautiful city we are," Carico said.
"It's going to get better, it's going to take some time," said J.T. Hutchinson, regional president of PNC Bank, which sponsored Wednesday's cleanup. "We're a part of the solution, and that's a good place to be."
According to SOLVE, 146 volunteers picked up 1,246 pounds of litter and debris from city sidewalks, parks, and business fronts Wednesday.
Since SOLVE events began in September of 2021, it said more than 6,100 volunteers have removed 59,154 pounds of trash from the downtown Portland area.
"Feels good to clean things up a little bit," one volunteer said.
"Seems like it's getting better," added another.
"I do think the city's trying," Carico said. "There's a lot of Band-Aids put on things, but really get to the root cause of what's going on, and making sure people have shelter, that's what we need to do. We need everybody talking about what that looks like."
SOLVE Oregon hosts weekly cleanup events, and volunteers can sign up online. The next big event is Saturday at Peace Memorial Park near the Convention Center.
"We just need people coming downtown supporting our local businesses, that's what's going to get this city up and running," Carico said.