By Kimberly Silverio-Bautista
Approximately 1,500 volunteers gathered early Saturday morning, waiting to check in for the 25th annual River Rally Clean-Up and Environmental Expo.
Mayor Marsha McLean opened the rally with a welcome speech and thanked the community for making a difference toward the environment.
“Everybody let’s get to work, and onto the river,” she said.
The 1,300-square mile Santa Clara River is the last natural river in Southern California, according to the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County website.
Kelly Kacmar, a 34-year-old Valencia resident, said she wants the community to be educated on how to properly dispose of their waste as every piece of trash thrown affects the river.
“We really want everyone to come together just to learn that when you improperly dispose of your waste it can end up in the Santa Clara river harming the environment and wildlife,” Kacmar said. “It can eventually lead to the ocean as well.”
Kacmar, a project technician in the city of Santa Clarita, was taking part in the clean up for the first time.
“This kind of support is amazing to see, especially the first time being here,” she added.
David Megenson, an assistant principal at Mission View Public Charter School, attended the rally with students, and said the school plans to continue volunteering to clean up the river as the years progress.
Nonprofits and companies, like Waste Management, provided information by educating and promoting resources to the community so they can know how to manage their waste disposal.
“We are just here promoting how to recycle properly, keeping it to bottles, cans, paper, cardboard and glass, and just really spreading the word about keeping plastic bags out of the recycle,” Commercial Recycling Manager Ashley Cortez said.
Other booths, like Eco Choices Environmental Club and the city of Santa Clarita, were selling metal straws, and had a white board asking, “What did you pick up in the river?” with pieces of trash taped to the board.