Linda Lamson's home abuts the Centennial Trail that runs along Arroyo Creek. The trail is not only frequented by her family but many others who live in Del Prado. Tired of looking at one particular piece of trash--a moldy shopping cart with two of its wheels protruding from the creek waters--Lamson decided she'd had enough and was going to do something about it.
"It actually looks a lot worse in the summer time because the water recedes," Lamson said as she stood on a hillside embankment. "I just thought, I've looked at it so many times when I've been walking my dog."
She, her two children and their friends donned kitchen gloves and successfully retrieved the metal cart from the creek, pushing it up the hillside where it would later be taken away to the dump.
All in one morning's worth of work.
It was the first time Lamson had participated in a local cleanup, going nearly waist-deep into the cold, stagnant water, but not the first time she's volunteered. She spent two years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Peace Corps.
Lamson recruited at least a dozen other people to help her in a creek cleanup as part of President Barack Obama's call to action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring the civil rights leader's passion for community service. Obama, who spent Monday participating in various service events, including visiting a homeless shelter for teens in Washington, D.C., has said he wants public service to be a theme of his presidency.
"I think people are really ready to step up and help," Lamson said. "I felt Obama's call to action."
She was joined by Karen Pico, whose husband, former mayor Tom Pico hauled the shopping cart into his truck. Karen Pico said she supported the president's call for citizens to be a part of a national effort to help heal the fallout from the country's crippled economy.
"There was this overwhelming need to contribute in any way we can," Karen Pico said. "We're in such a challenge right now. If we're going to get out of this mess, this is the way to do it."
Also part of the group cleanup were Art Tenbrink and Pat Griffin, who were members of Friends of Kottinger Creek, which advocated for the restoration and preservation of the creek.
One of Tenbrink's first pieces of trash was a partially filled beer can, which he fished out of the bushes, emptied and tossed in Griffin's awaiting plastic bag. Other volunteers included ladies from the unofficial "Middle-aged Women's Book Club."
The event was organized through usaservice.org.