INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to making change, you have to start somewhere.

“All this trash is around here, we would most definitely like to help out, pick it up,” said JP McMillian.

On Thursday, 34th and Keystone was the starting point for McMillian and other volunteers, who spent a few hours picking up trash in the area.

“It actually feels pretty good because it’s bad here,” he said.

McMillian is 12 years old, and while many kids may be enjoying summer vacation through video games, sleeping in or out with friends, he’s helping make a difference.

“It’s basically giving back to the community,” he said.

Thursday’s cleanup was the kickoff to this year’s Community Love Fest, a multi-day event meant to promote unity and love on the near northeast side.

While trash and litter are an issue in the area, it’s also seen its share of crime. According to FOX59’s Crime Mapping, at least six homicides were reported in the area so far this year. In all, the city of Indianapolis is nearing 100 homicides for 2022.

Kurt Moore, who is also president of the STR8UP Mentoring Foundation, is also from the area and has seen the impact.

“I grew up in this location, I grew up in the 46218. My business, K-Love’s Auto Detailing is also around the corner in the 46218,” he said. “Though we love and care about our whole city as a whole, but we’re starting right here in our backyard in this 46218, which we know is also crime-ridden.”

As part of the STR8UP Mentoring Foundation, Moore is also teaming up with Like No Other (LNO), Office of Public Health and Safety, Real Taste Catering, UNEC and others for the Community Love Fest.

Events continue Saturday with a youth basketball tournament, with more than 20 participating teams and vendors on hand, and an outdoor church service on Sunday led by area faith-based leaders.

Moore says they hosted Community Love Fest during Labor Day weekend last year, but decided to move it up earlier to reach more kids as school lets out for the summer. Moore says one of the key factors for change is starting young and instilling in the youth.

“Our goal is to try and change the character and the mindset of our kids or to teach them the morals and values that we were brought up on,” said Moore. “We have to do it collectively. We have to bring back that mindset, that a village will save our community.”

Through positive events throughout the weekend, Moore hopes people will see the good in the community and be inspired to make change in their own backyard.

“A lot of times, a lot of the community will lose hope with all of the violence and crime that’s going on, but we don’t want you to lose that hope,” he said. “We want you to understand that there’s still hope, and the most important thing, the underground thing or the foundation to all that, is love.”

Below is the schedule of events for Community Love Fest throughout the weekend:

·       Community Clean Up – June 9 (5 p.m., near 34th and Keystone)

·       Community Dust Bowl Basketball Tournament – June 11 and 12 (11 a.m. – Sunset)
Age Divisions: 10 – 12 Year old; 13 – 15 Year old; 16 – 18 Year Old; and Open Division 18 and up.

·       “Love Conquers Hate” – Healing In the Park – June 12 (11:30 a.m.)
Hosted by Dr. Darryl Webster of the Emmanuel MBC and the Men’s Boot Camp with special guest Dr. Clyde Posley of Antioch BC and Union District Moderator.

All events will be held at Washington Park (3130 East 30th Street Indianapolis, IN 46218), but the activities will be near the 34th street entrance.