On Saturday, April 15th, over 100 people volunteered for the Coyote Creek Cleanup in celebration of Earth Day at Tully Ballfields. This was the first cleanup I had ever participated in and the experience was truly a unique one. I enjoyed spending my morning helping to clean the creek alongside the many wonderful people that I met.
There was a wide range of ages from seven years old and up, including cub scouts, middle and high school students, college students, and local neighborhood associations. To see so many people come out and give back to their community and environment was heartwarming.
We were divided into groups led by one of the KCCB team and each took a different section of the area. I was part of the second group and, armed with gloves, a trash grabber tool, and garbage bags, we headed down the steep path to the creek. We were instructed to not throw away or move anything that looks like somebody’s living space. Personally, I was glad to hear this because I was worried we would be asked to throw away the few items someone might own. There was a lot more trash than I was expecting, especially up in the trees and bushes (which I am assuming is because of the flood that occurred over a month ago). There was also a variety of items found—apart from the usual plastic and food packaging trash—including tires, clothing, blankets, shoes, carts, carpets, etc. In just three hours, volunteers had packed dozens of bags full of trash and pulled multiple larger trash items from in and around the creek.
The Coyote Creek Cleanup not only helps the environment and the San Jose community but also raises awareness of the need for permanent housing for the homeless. A lot of this trash is due to the homeless population that sets up camp alongside the creek. While some people might put the blame on them, they must realize that if multiple people are forced to find shelter on a steep, sometimes muddy hill beside a creek, then it is more of a societal problem, not a personal one. The creek cleanup exposes this reality to many of its volunteers which, hopefully, opens their eyes and compels them to take some sort of action.