For the past 16 years, Harvard staff and students have recently teamed up with their neighbors in Allston to help clean up the city’s parks, streets, schools, and various community locations as part of the annual Love Your Block event, formerly known as Boston Shines. Through raking leaves, sweeping sidewalks, reviving benches with fresh coats of paint and planting lively flowers, the volunteers find themselves bonding with each other, all while tidying up and enlivening the Allston community.

Photo by Asia Bradlee

For Susan Worst, an associate director for administrative and web systems at the Harvard Divinity School, Love Your Block is necessary. “It’s a great opportunity to interact and talk to colleagues or other people you don’t normally get to talk to. For that reason, I really like the community aspect of the event,” she said.

“Cleaning and taking care of the community is a great example for the kids,” said Claudia O’Brien, a staff assistant at the Harvard Ed Portal. “They come out with their families and they are excited to help make their community better.”

James Barrows, Harvard’s associate director of community relations, enthusiastically played team captain to a group of volunteers. “This is a terrific opportunity for Boston residents and those who work in Boston to take a few hours from their week to spend some time with their neighbors, colleagues and friends in a fun and impactful citywide civic engagement program,” Barrows said.

Erin Johnson, a program manager for Harvard’s public school partnerships team, proudly sported a Love Your Block T-shirt. “It’s my first year volunteering!” When asked why giving time and effort to an event like this one is important, she responded, “We should all want to be great neighbors.”