California Coastal Cleanup Day is held every third Saturday of September. This year, three Student Corps chapters responded at local areas in need of cleanup: the Valley Christian High School Chapter at Hellyer County Park, Fremont Chapter at Saratoga Creek, and Evergreen High School Chapter at Calero County Park. All members created a profound impact on their local ecosystems.
On September 18th, 2021, several Student Corps members from Valley Christian High School gathered at Hellyer County Park for California Coastal Cleanup Day. The park runs along a river, and we split into two groups in order to cover both the north and south sides. We filled several large bags with trash, covering the area from the river all the way to the curbside. Passing drivers waved at us and thanked us through their car windows. We found many odd pieces of “trash,” such as a heavy wheel and various clothing items. One volunteer almost added a large rag to the trash bag before noticing a lizard hidden in the folds. Two volunteers even discovered a gun hidden in the grass! In fact, law enforcement officials and park rangers had been searching for this particular gun for a long time. Although unplanned, the find proved to be crucial in an investigation. Volunteers left feeling satisfied with their efforts while recalling the interesting events that had occurred. This volunteer experience was unlike any other before!
by Mikayla Wu
Members of the Student Corps Fremont Chapter met at an intersection near Saratoga Creek early on the morning of September 18, 2021. We received a pleasant surprise when we first made our way down the bank of the creek: there was hardly any trash in sight! The group resorted to cleaning up the immediate vicinity at street level, which included a dead-end court and disused commercial plaza. The court was relatively clean, as it sees frequent usage and is fenced off along the sides, where parking is illegal. The only major finds were a drain stuffed full of trash and a shopping cart. The plaza, on the other hand, had obviously been abandoned for some time, with worn-out pavement, fading paint, a few boarded-up windows, broken lamps, and weeds everywhere. Trash of all sorts had accumulated on its western edge, which borders the creek, including three shopping carts. A row of abandoned cars, mostly leaking white late-model Toyota Corollas, dominated the southern side of the plaza, which was also overgrown with weeds. However, little trash was to be found there. On the sides bordering roads, we found much more trash due to their more accessible locations for littering. Some interesting finds included a newly-opened bag of one hundred golf tees, found in an in-ground electrical box, and a disused newspaper box. At the end of the morning, we had accumulated some five hundred pounds of trash and made a fantastic impact.
by Steven Wang
Most of the trash pieces Evergreen chapter members collected were shattered or full glass bottles, which likely comprised more than half of the weight of trash we’d collected. There were quite a few bottle-caps to accompany the bottles, along with countless cigarette butts. The trails were mostly clear of garbage; in fact, we had to hunt for most of the trash on the sidelines: through spiky brambles, where we found plastic bottles covered in dirt that had likely been untouched for years, glass bottles buried into the ground, and smashed cans that were covered with more dirt than anything else. Although we did notice a sign that urged people to “throw [your] litter in the littering can,” there were hardly any around. This contributed to the excessive litter. Putting up trash cans would definitely help keep the park more clean. Although we were only supposed to remove trash, we still couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the park. It was inspiring to be in such a place and made the hard work of cleaning up seem like a pleasure. We felt incredibly honored to contribute, even just a little, to many people’s happy places.
by Christina Huang