Members of a Muslim youth group collected trash and cleaned up national parks around the U.S. on Saturday and Sunday in an effort to assuage the damage done amid the government shutdown.
Dozens of people associated with Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, the largest national organization for Muslim youths, cleaned up litter, emptied trash cans and swept the grounds in places such as the Everglades National Park in Florida and Joshua Tree National Park in California, according to CNN.
More than a dozen young Muslim men on Saturday also reportedly picked up trashed at the Independence Mall in Philadelphia, the site of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
Video posted online showed a group of men walking through the area with garbage bags, rakes and trash pickers.
More than a dozen young men with @MuslimYouthUSA are cleaning up Independence Mall today in pouring rain. They say they are doing their part in helping amid government shutdown. pic.twitter.com/xxTvyubo9W
— Claudia Vargas (@InqCVargas) January 5, 2019
Members of @MuslimYouthUSA fan out on @INDEPENDENCENHP to pick up trash during the partial goverment shutdown. The @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/9CLYyjB0ra
— John McDevitt (@JM1060) January 5, 2019
A group of volunteers were also spotted cleaning up areas at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, CNN noted.
“Service to our nation and cleanliness are important parts of Islam,” Dr. Madeel Abdullah, president of the youth group, said in a press release, according to CNN.
“We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash. We will lead by example and dispose of this garbage appropriately and invite all Americans to join us in these parks and others across the nation.”
A spokesperson for the group, Salaam Bhatti, told the news network that people from the general public joined its members during clean-ups after getting in contact via social media.
Bhatti said that the group has logged about 200,000 hours in community cleanups since 2016. She added that such efforts help increase dialogue between Muslims and people of other religious backgrounds.
“I hope it shows that we’re not here just to talk about Islam the whole time,” Bhatti told CNN. “We’re here to be part of America.”
The cleanups occurred as the partial government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, entered its third week. The shutdown was triggered after Republicans and Democrats could not come to an agreement on a new spending bill.
National parks have been impacted by the shutdown. The National Park Service said in a statement on Sunday that it has “explored a number of options to address the maintenance and sanitation issues that have arisen at a number of highly visited parks.”