Equipped with paintbrushes, trash grabbers and the spirit of volunteerism, some 80 people spent the afternoon of Martin Luther King Jr. Day beautifying the parks and trails along a 2-mile stretch of Dry Creek.
Since its creation about two years ago, the Dry Creek Trails Coalition has organized about a dozen cleanups.
The coalition started when a running club and a mountain biking club that frequent the trials started small-scale cleanups independently of each other.
“I noticed no one really was collectively doing anything to keep this gem clean,” said coalition founder Darin Jesberg. “I wanted to give back to dry creek because it provides a nice venue for trail riders and kids.”
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He partnered his group, the Dry Creek Trail Riders, with the ShadowChase running club. The La Loma Neighborhood Association, disc golfers and business owners on Dry Creek with their private security have all gotten on board with efforts to eliminate the areas of blight from the otherwise scenic parks.
Through social media, other businesses not associated with the park have offered the help of their workforces.
The vast majority of Monday’s volunteers were Starbucks employees from throughout the county and as far as Los Banos and Tracy. The coffee company’s employees since 2011 have dedicated almost 614,000 hours of community service, with the ultimate goal of 1 million hours by 2015.
Bryan Halpin, manager of the Patterson Starbucks, mobilized Starbucks workers for the Dry Creek cleanup.
“We were looking for a big event we could tackle with a bunch of people, and we thought this would be a great venue,” he said. “I love this park; I mountain bike here, I play disc golf here, I have been riding my bicycle here since I was 3.”
The volunteers Monday painted over graffiti on trash cans, fences and play areas. They collected more than 50 bags of trash and hauled out tires and shopping carts.
The Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department works with the Dry Creek Trails Coalition by providing supplies and waiving the rental fee for the pavilion at East La Loma Park, where the volunteers gathered and barbecued after the cleanup.
The city also picks up all the trash collected at the end of the day, although Jesberg and Halpin spent a few hours after the rest of the volunteers had gone home getting what the garbage truck couldn’t Monday.