by Cheryl Senn
More than 360 pounds of refuse and more than 60 pounds of recyclables were picked up by more than 200 volunteers during the recent Earth Day Celebration Kings River Clean Up, organized by the Sanger Boys & Girls Club. The number of community groups participating in the third annual event has increased each year, according to the Unit Director of the Sanger Youth Center Boys & Girls Club, Tammy Tucker. “I spoke to the Kings River Conservancy and we both agreed there was more people this year compared to last year.”
Tucker said there were 13 church/groups represented this year, which included Grace Community Church, Calvary Fellowship Church, Family Worship Center’s Project Purple, Kings River Conservancy, Tenaya Middle School Wildlife Club, Sanger High LEAP Program Community Service Club, Sanger Boys & Girls Club, Orange Cove Boys & Girls Club, Sunset Waste Systems, Starbucks, Fairmont 4H and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Helping Hands.
“It was the perfect number that we can handle,” said Tucker, about the number of volunteers. “We have enough food, activities and projects. Everybody seemed to have something to do and they were happy with that they were doing.”
The refuse and recyclables were deposited in containers provided by Sunset Waste Systems and the group or organization who collected the most debris received a $75 prize from Sunset Waste Systems.
Sonia Lara-Tyler, Recycling Coordinator for Sunset Waste Systems said, “So far, it looks like we’ve got a lot more people…more so than last year I believe,” when describing the number of participants in the event. Tenaya Middle School Wildlife Club collected the most trash and was the winner of the $75.
The actual date for Earth Day was, Monday, April 22, but the clean up group was celebrating it on the Saturday prior to Earth Day to include a larger and more varied volunteer group.
Most of the volunteers met at Winton Park on the Kings River, where they were given project options to work on. Projects included painting benches and planting trees at Choinumni Park, picking up debris in rafts floating down the Kings River, picking up refuse along the shoreline of the river, working on a nature trail within Winton Park, and joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Helping Hands with the rehabilitation of the group picnic area at Avocado Lake.
Once volunteers decided on what project they wanted to work on, there was transportation provided to them to get to their destinations. Trash bags and bottled water were provided for the volunteers during the clean up. After the clean up, there was a barbecue lunch provided by Sunset Waste Systems. According to Lara-Tyler, there were 300 hot dogs, 300 bags of chips and 300 bottles of water provided. In addition to the hot dogs, 40 pounds of chicken drumsticks, donated by Pitman Farms, were cooked up as well.
Kings River Conservancy provided volunteers with directional maps and information about the Kings River to assist them with their clean up projects, along with fun activities for kids.
Returning to donate time for the river clean up was a group from Starbucks. Vanessa Robles from Starbucks traveled from Bakersfield to participate in the clean up. Robles, along with fellow Starbucks volunteer, Diana Rascon, painted benches and planted trees at the Choinumni Park. “Everybody should volunteer in the community around them. It’s important to help out,” said Rascon.
“Everybody benefits from the community taking care of each other,” added Robles.
Both Robles and Rascon said volunteering was a great way to show young adults and children, by example, the importance of volunteering and keeping the Earth clean. Debbie Mobley, District Manager with Starbucks said there were a total of 20 volunteers from Starbucks this year.
Tucker said partnering with the Mormon Helping Hands this year was done to make a bigger impact. All projects took place at the same time.
Bill Short, Helping Hands event coordinator, said 60 people worked on improving the Avocado Lake Park group picnic area. Short said the picnic/group area had not been used in a long time because it was in bad shape and the county could not address the needs due to budget issues. Short said the Helping Hands were “getting everything usable again.”
According to Tucker, a lot of people don’t like to go to Avocado Lake because it is known to be filthy, and today with the help of the Helping Hands, “we want to show the community that we still care about these areas.”
The group painted four water storage tanks, painted red curbing, weeded the picnic area, painted benches, and also had boats out picking up trash. Short said the Helping Hands project was part of a larger national event with other Helping Hands groups volunteering all over the nation.
“We look for opportunities to serve the community,” said Short.
This was the first year for members from the Sanger Family Worship Center’s Project Purple group and the Calvary Fellowship Youth Program to participate in the clean up.
“This is our third year, and it continues to grow,” said Tucker. “I think we are incorporating more, with learning about the river as a natural resource and as a place for us to go and enjoy.” Tucker also said the river clean up was important because the Kings River was in Sanger’s back yard.
Lara-Tyler said Sunset Waste Systems wanted to be involved in the clean up each year because,”The City of Sanger has done such a wonderful job with their recycling, so this is something small that we want to participate in every year with the Sanger Boys & Girls Club who have been a real good ally with us.”
The Sanger Boys & Girls Club won first prize in their recent phone book recycling challenge. “We’re very proud of them,” added Lara-Tyler.
According to Tucker the clean up is going to take place every Earth Day and Lara-Tyler said Sunset Waste Systems is committed to working with the Sanger Boys & Girls Club. “We’ve always worked well together with them, so we want to continue that relationship with them,” said Lara-Tyler, who also said Sunset wants to celebrate Earth Day with all the communities they service.
Items collected during the clean up included a lawn chair, food wrappers, beer bottles, soda cans and straws.
“It’s encouraging for me to see so many people wanting to be a part of this event. I really didn’t promote it that much and yet these people called me to say ‘I want to be a part of this’,” said Tucker. “It’s just encouraging to hear that people really want to help, help the river, help the youth, and develop places for our next generation to enjoy.”
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