Stories

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.

7/24/2021

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! 

8/7/2021

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!

8/14/2021

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!

Story from Johns Creek Chapter

This year, the Johns Creek Chapter has participated in many tutoring events for students in the local community and even those with learning disabilities. Tutors from the Johns Creek Chapters taught everything from core academic classes such as English and Math to valuable life skills in public speaking. Also, the chapter had fun events such as music performances to serve the elderly and kids with disabilities. Recycling events were also conducted to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization, with scrap pieces of metal being traded in for money.

Written by: Alexander Wang

NorCal Fundraising

In recent months, NorCal Student Corps chapters have raised a combined $1500 for three different organizations, each of which has a unique and invaluable effect on the community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an organization dedicated to empowering youth to achieve their full potential through one-to-one mentorships. Student Corps has a long-running partnership with this organization, which includes annual donations to its Bay Area branch, and members once again came through with a five-hundred-dollar donation. This donation goes towards furthering BBBSBA’s mentorship programs.

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful’s mission is evident in its name. Through numerous cleanups every year, the organization removes tons of trash from the Coyote Creek ecosystem. Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful was also a recipient of a five-hundred-dollar donation from Student Corps’ Fremont chapter, which directly contributed to equipment upgrades and other operational and logistical enhancements.

Finally, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano received five hundred dollars from the Tri-Valley chapter, which was enough to fund one thousand nutritious meals. This donation came during a critical period, as the food bank has seen a 50% increase in demand during the pandemic and has even moved into a new, larger warehouse to upgauge its operations and better fulfill the needs of the community.