It only makes sense that a community just miles from one of the most beautiful national forests in the country would want to keep itself looking its best.

Ministry of Light Baptist Church and Unity of Faith Missionary Baptist Church are working toward just that. Churches and community members gathered together Saturday for the inaugural spring cleanup along the eastern edge of Huntsville.

“Our philosophy here at the Ministry of Light is to serve God by serving man, and this is our opportunity to serve our community,” Ministry of Light pastor and event organizer Tommy Manuel said. “If we can make the community better, then that is what God’s work is all about.”

The group gathered over a dozen volunteers to pick up litter along streets, along with clearing brush piles and mowing needed areas in the community. The effort was in conjunction with the Huntsville City Council, the Huntsville Police Department and the city’s solid waste department.

“I came from a family that always believed in giving … we had a lot next to our house and my mom and dad paid to get it cut for years, even though it didn’t belong to them in an effort to make the community better,” Manuel added. “It’s something that has been ingrained in me and this effort with the church is just a continuation of that.”

Through the effort — alongside Jason Haecker with the city of Huntsville code enforcement division — the group has got abandoned vehicles moved, lots mowed and several houses approved for demolition.

Manual says that he hopes the cleanup will turn into an annual or semi-annual event, as community leaders seek to raise the appeal of the eastern Huntsville.

“Huntsville cannot be the best it can be unless the east end is the best it can be,” Manual said. “The goal with all of this is to not just make Huntsville better, but make all of Walker County better.”