California Coastal Cleanup Day Action

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

Valley Christian High School Cleanup

With over 200 public parks in San Jose, maintenance is a complex but necessary task. However, during the pandemic, the number of available park employees has decreased, and many parks have been left unmaintained. The help of proactive volunteers is more valuable than ever to ensure that the parks in our community are safe and well-kept. Members of the Valley Christian High School chapter recognized this and have sprung to action as of late.


Mount Pleasant Park

Over 20 Student Corps members of Valley Christian High School and their parents gathered to clean up Mount Pleasant Park on this Saturday. After being left alone for months, the park was clearly in need of maintenance. The grass was littered with all sorts of trash, weeds were overgrown, and the playground’s mulch needed a change. Luckily, we volunteers were eager to help. For three hours, we worked tirelessly to transform the park. We picked up all of the trash, repainted the benches and tables, replaced the mulch, and pulled weeds. Through these various tasks, we were able to restore the park to its former glory. Now, the neighborhood can enjoy the newly restored Mount Pleasant Park! 


Coyote Creek Park

On a beautiful Saturday with clear skies and a shining sun, various Student Corps members from different branches descended on the trail and creek near Tully Ballfields, which was filled with all types of trash, from shopping carts to shattered glass bottles. For 3 hours, we busied ourselves with shoveling all of the litter into our bags and carrying larger pieces of garbage up to the pickup site. In the end, we managed to remove 3680 pounds of trash, giving everyone a profound sense of accomplishment. There’s still plenty of work to be done, though, so let’s continue to make our community cleaner!


Almaden Winery Rose Garden

On August 14th, 2021, Student Corps members from three different schools (Valley Christian, Archbishop Mitty, and Evergreen Valley) united to clean up the Almaden Winery Rose Garden. The garden is in the heart of a neighborhood, and people often come to enjoy the beautiful roses. We worked together to deadhead flowers and trim bushes. We also removed moss and leaves to create a cleaner space for the roses to grow and visitors to walk through. By the end of our work, the rose bushes looked well-kept, the pathways were clean, and the soil was clear of unwanted plants. Of course, we were only able to complete all the tasks thanks to our group mindset! This volunteering event was the perfect opportunity to give back to the community, all while fostering social connections and building a network of motivation. We were also joined by Matt Mahan, the city council member representing San Jose’s District 10. He encouraged us to continue to serve the community and explore more community service projects. We appreciate his support and hope to connect with him and the city council again in the future!

Tri-Valley Food Bank

The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano has experienced a 50% increase in food needs through the ongoing pandemic, serving 270,000 people a month instead of the usual 178,000. Nonetheless, the Food Bank has never failed to disappoint as they took on the pandemic with an expanded warehouse (over 100k sq feet!), increased advocation on food insecurities, and volunteers like you and me to help the community. With the food bank’s outstanding efforts, it was clear to the Tri-Valley Chapter of NorCal that this food bank deserved all the help it could get. Especially since they support over 240 nonprofits, they not only help out their neighbors but also their local charities! 

On June 16, 2021, seven members of the Tri-Valley chapter arrived at the food bank and went right to work. Within the warehouse were pallets stacked high with all kinds of canned goods such as corn, beans, and tomato sauce. These canned goods were all wrapped in large amounts of plastic wrap, so our job was to cut away all the plastic and transfer the food to an empty wooden pallet. In addition, with our donation to the food bank of $500, we will have provided an additional 1000 healthy meals to people in need! The food bank is a multi-level process with many moving parts, and we were able to contribute to something that helps hundreds of more people!

Fremont Chapter Park Cleanup 5/29/21

Written by: Steven Wang

This past Saturday, the Fremont chapter of NorCal Student Corps went out for both a park cleanup and a check delivery at Coyote Creek, hosted by KCCB (Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful). Bringing a 500 dollar check with them, which would, in the words of KCCB, “make a world of difference” for the organization, our volunteers all have taken time out of their day to contribute to the community.

Presentation of the check occurred in front of a mural with an interesting backstory. The wall on which it was painted belonged to an elementary school and had been graffitied repeatedly, so the city and the school got together and took input from various sources on what should be done. A mural was decided to be most effective. The content of the mural was largely decided by students of the school, and it makes a strong statement regarding environmental conservation and restoration – fitting for the day’s theme.

NorthCal Coyote Creek Park Cleanup

Written by: Steven Wang (Fremont Chapter President)

On April 10th, 2021, over fifteen Student Corps members and their parents from four different NorCal chapters descended upon Coyote Creek in a coordinated, socially-distanced effort to clean up sections of the creek and their surroundings. Through the local nonprofit Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, the team of over twenty volunteers filled twenty-six 55-gallon trash bags, retrieving the most “large items” among the month’s participants.

On behalf of all of the participants that came this weekend, I can proudly say that this experience and event was the most satisfying I, the author, and the others have had in a long time. Minimizing the human footprint has become one of the foremost issues facing society today, and I seek everyday to play even the smallest role in the fight against environmental problems such as climate change. The physical effort of scouring an area for trash, repeatedly hauling heavy trash bags to the curbside, and bringing bulky items up from the creek brought smiles among all of the Student Corps volunteers; the difference we were able to make upon nature and its elements left positive and lasting impressions.

Thank you to all of the NorCal students that took the time to come out this weekend and continue volunteering through these difficult and harsh times. I applaud and encourage everyone to continue doing great work for the community. Shown below is a video collage of the pictures we took this weekend.