BANGOR, Maine (WABI) With the permission of Bangor Public works and the Bangor PD, parks on Second, Court and Hayward Streets were manned with volunteers on Sunday to clean up needles. It was all part of the Bangor Parks Needle Clean Up, organized the Maine Porcupine Crew.
"I was reached out to by a local resident," said Richard Light, member of The Maine Porcupine Crew. "His name is Philip, and he's a dad of five. So, he keeps coming to the parks, and he, you know, sent a message out. He said, "Look man, there's needles in the parks occasionally, and it's really not safe for my kids."
378 Mainers died in 2016 from opioid overdose. And while picking up used needles may not combat the drug issue in Maine, it's a way organizers say can keep kids safe.
"There's no denying the fact that if we pick up needles today it means children can play in the park tomorrow, but I also believe that it's kind of treating a symptom, and not treating the problem unfortunately, because the needles are going to return," said Maia Dendinger, Chair of the Socialist Party of Maine. "People are going to come back here, and continue to use this spot in order to use drugs."
Volunteers taking part in the clean up believe that picking up used needles is just the start of battling the ongoing drug problem throughout the state. And making local communities a better place for everyone to live.
"Get the solution resolved, and this is a good way to start, and we need a lot more people joining us in not just picking up needles, but you know, addressing the drug problem that is devastating the entire country, and now it's really hitting here," said Philip Perry, member of The Porcupine Crew.
"We're just trying to make sure that the people of Maine know that they can come out, and try to make the world a better place themselves," said Light. "We don't always have to rely on other people to do it, and I think that's why this unification is really working, because all of us understand that this is our time. You know, this is the time for us to get up, and go do these things for the betterment of our communities."