DETROIT - A group of Detroit firefighters spent Saturday working to fight the blight that is not only an eyesore in neighborhoods but a hazard for students walking to and from school.
Saturday was national "Making a Difference Day," and the group hit the street to make their impact in the Cody-Rouge community on the city's west side.
The area around Cody and Rouge Park is part of the Detroit Public Schools' safe school routes program.
Parents and students said they were outraged by what they see in the neighborhood: burned, dilapidated homes and overgrown grass – a breeding ground for crime.
"Our kids have to walk through this to go to school. We don't like it. I didn't have to do it so why should they?" said parent Patrice Lambert.
Lambert said she blames the city for leaving the homes to crumble year after year.
"The time is now, not tomorrow. Today. Right now," she said.
The firefighters, along with an army of volunteers, removed brush and boarded up abandoned homes, all in an effort to make the community feel safer.
"I live here and I got kids that go to school in Detroit Public Schools … If I don't do something for them, if I am not proactive, then I am part of the problem," said Deputy Fire Chief John King.
The Detroit Fire Department, Detroit Fireman's Fund, Skillman Foundation, Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance and other organizations were part of the effort.
The Detroit school district is expanding citizen patrols along routes to and from its school buildings.
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