Volunteers spent a portion of their Sunday cleaning up hazardous materials related to drugs from unexpected public places in the Valley.

The syringe cleanup was organized by "Sonoran Prevention Works," a local grassroots organization which works to reduce the harm caused by drug use in the community and ultimately address the opioid crisis in Arizona.

Brian Thoi led the effort.

"Injection drug use is an issue that is a community issue. It affects all of us whether we realize it or not, and it's an issue that has community solutions," Thoi said.

His group chose the Interstate 17 corridor near Bell Road in Phoenix where he said they found a lot of syringes, needles and a lot of tin foil, which indicates heroin use.

"It's good to be aware that there are hazardous materials around but it's also good to be aware that a lot of people don't have a safe way to dispose of these things," Albertine Perez, a volunteer, said.

The area was chosen based on research.

"This particular area, we've had different community organizations and neighbors reach out to us about the issue. We've also had contacts with law enforcement let us know this is a hot spot where there's been reported citings," Thoi said.

Thoi said making a difference, no matter how small, and ultimately raising awareness is what makes it worth it.

"If we come together and start a conversation about what we can do, to do what we all want, which is to have a healthier and safer community, then we can move forward on this issue without having to resort to stigma or fear mongering about the issue," Thoi said.

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