This story is part of the NYCity News Service’s Next New York project.

Throughout the pandemic, city parks have been a place where New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds come in search of peace, connection and fresh air.

Yet as usage has soared, so has the amount of trash left behind—an issue compounded by an $84-million budget cut for the city’s sprawling parks system.

Rather than letting parks become swallowed up by trash, volunteers armed with bags and gloves have organized cleanups.

Community efforts to care for local parks are cropping up across the five boroughs.