A Muslim youth group collected trash and cleaned up several national parks around the United States on Saturday and Sunday in an effort to thwart damage being done because of the government shutdown.
Dozens of young 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.
There were also more than a dozen young Muslim men who reportedly picked up trash at Independence Mall in Philadelphia on Saturday. It is the historic site of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
There was video posted online that showed a group of men walking through the area with garbage bags, rakes and trash pickers.
A group of volunteers were also seen cleaning up areas at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
”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.”
Salaam Bhatti, a spokesperson for the group, 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 given 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.”
National parks have been impacted by the shutdown, not in its third week. 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.”