Residents Rid Central Hillside of Needles and Trash

Natives Against Heroin and other groups pickup trash.

DULUTH, Minn.- As the snow melts, it’s revealing some of the effects of the opioid crisis we don’t always see during the winter.

Discarded needles.

So residents decided to do something about it.

The group is called Natives Against Heroin, and a couple dozen people came out to help clean up trash and needles.

They don’t want to see anyone get hurt, and they say they’re driven by a desire to be proud of their community.

“The snow melted and left a lot of garbage, so we just want to do a general cleanup on top of that, little neighborhood pride.”

Shawn Carr decided to call his neighbors and fellow Natives Against Heroin out Sunday, after a startling winter discovery.

“Couple weeks ago I was parking my car when there was still a lot of snow left,” he said.

“There were syringes coming out of the snow bank.”

Volunteers found more syringes on Sunday as well.

“Yeah we definitely don’t want any little kids playing around with those or anybody else getting accidentally stuck,” said Carr.

Some parents brought along their children, hoping to use the cleanup as a lesson.

About how important it is for kids to tell an adult if they find a needle.

“He’s pretty strong minded so even him, I wouldn’t want him to think that he could handle it,” said a father cleaning with his young son.

And for some volunteers, like Alicia Kozlowski, seeing syringes in this area hits close to home.

“A lot of my family members have been personally impacted, most of my family members do struggle with some form of addiction,” Kozlowski said. “So this is super personal, growing up in this neighborhood.”

According to the City of Duluth, if you happen to find syringes or needles put them in a rigid container or sharps box, label them, and deliver them to the WLSSD Household Hazardous Waste Facility, where they’ll take care of them for free.

Or, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so yourself, call the city’s 24/7 Sharps Hotline: 218-730-4001.

Syringes weren’t the only trash, and this problem isn’t limited to the Central Hillside neighborhood.

“I saw it around in Central Hillside, I saw it when I was driving in Lincoln Park,” said Kozlowski.

“Actual mattresses and chairs and couches and whatnot that have been dumped into the river.”

The group feels this is a way to polish up their community.

“I want the neighborhood to look nice, ’cause it’s a nice neighborhood,” Carr said.

And according to Kozlowski, this kind of connection builds their connection with the Earth.

“As Anishinaabe people, to have that relationship with our land in like, how we respect ourselves, and our bodies as like we should respect and treat our Earth,” she said.

“The health of our community is a direct reflection of how we stand up for it.”

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