The volunteers spread out from Governor Street to Wabash Avenue, picking up trash along the way.
The business group partners with local schools twice a year to clean the area, making it more inviting, said association president Debbie Cimarossa.
"It's great for kids to be involved," said David Farrell, vice president of the association and a 36-year resident of the area. "We benefit from their involvement, and it also brings a smile to our faces."
Helping support such efforts teaches the children how to be good neighbors, added organizer Julie Dirksen.
"This is their neighborhood, too," said Kris Huddleston, principal at Franklin, 1200 Outer Park Drive.
Eighth-graders Chloe Vose and Jordyn Rubin, and seventh-grader Karee Martin walked with Angela Johnson, a Franklin teacher. The girls wanted to help the community and the environment, they said.
"We wanted to help out because we wanted to make Springfield look cleaner," Vose said.
Johnson wanted to set a good example for her students.
"We're all in this together," she said of taking care of the community.
A group of sixth- and seventh-graders found something of value in front of a gas station. Madelyn Dobron, Olivia Riemer, Taija West and Lacy Hickman tried to return the $50 cash they picked up, but the gas station employees told them to keep it. The girls decided to donate the money to their school.
"It's impressive to see (the business association) partnering with schools and neighbors to accomplish a cleanup and to express pride in MacArthur Boulevard renewal," said Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin, who helped with the cleanup.
MacArthur Boulevard used to be a key shopping and dining area in Springfield, highlighted by the Town and Country Shopping Center opening in 1961. However, development eventually moved west.
In 2009, MC Sports closed its location in the shopping center after two decades in business.
In 2010, an 18-member MacArthur Boulevard Action Committee hired The Lakota Group to create a revitalization plan, and this year, a tax increment financing district along MacArthur from South Grand to Summit avenues was created to encourage business development.
There are still vacant buildings and lots, but residents say change is coming. The Iowa-based grocery chain Hy-Vee is moving into the old Kmart site vacated more than eight years ago, the Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet will open soon, and the Illinois State Board of Elections recently announced plans to move to the area.
"Once the spark is set off, then you create a kind of enthusiasm," Farrell said. "We're looking to spread the word into many different corners of economic activity."
The business association wants to develop a pedestrian-friendly boulevard, with plenty of stores and restaurants within walking distance for residents. The neighborhood is a great place for families, Cimarossa said.
Hy-Vee's addition should make it even more convenient for residents, according to Rianne Hawkins, another resident who helped with Saturday's cleanup. Hawkins moved to the area eight years ago after attending the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Cimarossa credits residents with helping revitalize the boulevard. People who live in the MacArthur area and other Springfield residents who know the area "want to see it back to what it was," she said.
Cimarossa, who used to be the ward's alderman, estimates there are 70 businesses and at least 500 residents adjoining the boulevard.
"There's just a lot of momentum and excitement," she said. "Everybody has a part in doing that."