The Santa Clarita River Rally has been a fundamental community event for the last 28 years.
Every year volunteers come with a trash bag in hand to pick up trash in the community.
Something that seems so little, has the capacity to make a huge difference.
“This is a wonderful event for everyone within the community, to have the opportunity to come out and help clean up the river, so it’s an environmental opportunity, it helps gear people towards the sustainability of the city,” said Lindsay Schmandt, a project technician with environmental services for the city. “You get to meet community members. You get to meet local nonprofits and organizations … We really do love bringing everyone together and kind of having them make those connections.”
On Saturday, 1,200 volunteers made their way to the Newhall Community Center to get their shoes dirty in the Santa Clara Riverbed near 12th Street, extending south to Valle Del Oro.
“Being able to see that people are enjoying what they’re doing today and being active within the community and just talking to each other and being a part of this event is inspiring for me,” said Schmandt. “I’m really privileged to be able to be a part of this.”
Volunteers were first briefed with an environmental report that detailed the contents in the Santa Clara riverbed, making residents aware of the animals, plants, insects and reptiles they could see or encounter.
Then it was time to get to work.
Volunteers were given trash bags, gopher tools and gloves.
“It’s a great thing to get kids involved in young, so that they’re aware that these types of events are available and they can become involved,” said volunteer Renée Franano.
Franano has been volunteering in the River Rally for five years. What started as an Arroyo Seco Junior High School ASB outing turned into a family tradition.
“The kids come and meet up with their friends and pick up trash and we’ve, my myself and my husband, have come with them as well,” said Franano. “It’s kind of adventurous finding random items, like when we found a huge stuffed animal (and a) grocery cart.”
Franano said that being able to see the trash, pick it up and turn it in allows for her and her family to be more connected to the root of the event – keeping the community clean.
“(It’s) being more mindful of not littering and you respecting our community,” said Franano.
Laura Groller and her son were also not first timers to the event.
“It’s a great event and we brought our kids, the kids have a good time,” said Groller. “They feel like they’re helping out. My son was very excited.”
Through the efforts of Franano, Groller, their families and those from years past, 470,000 lbs of trash has been collected over the last 28 years. Schmandt only hopes that this number goes up.
The 28th annual SCV River Rally also featured an environmental expo where volunteers had the opportunity to explore nonprofits, community groups and organizations offering tips on preserving the City’s local watershed, pollution prevention, sustainability efforts and recycling.
“It’s just a good opportunity for them to learn about what’s going on in their community, current events and environmental impact,” said Schmandt.
The Sierra Club, SCV Water, Placerita Nature Center, Discovery Cube Science, Burrtec and the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) were a few present.
For more information visit GreenSantaClarita.com.