Volunteers work to clean up illegal dump sites in Coalinga, local businesses support effort

COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Illegal dumping is a problem throughout the Central Valley, but a group of volunteers in Coalinga are now taking action to clean up their city.

It starts with a meeting at a central location.

Then the group of volunteers pile into cars, trucks and tractors and head out.

Wednesday, their target location was a creek bed alongside a trailer home park that has become a prime spot for dumping.

"Refrigerators, washers dryers, every kind of appliance you could imagine," said Rachel Ross.

They get right to work stacking the mattresses, loading the appliances, and picking up trash.

"We're not pros but we get it done," said Ross.

The cleanups started with Kenneth Smith.

"It all started over a Facebook post," Smith said.

People were complaining about a spot with illegal dumping, so he went and cleaned it up.

"It just started from there," said Smith.

Then volunteers started coming and the cleanup crew started to grow.

People began dedicating their time to picking up trash that isn't theirs, all while navigating the hazards of the job like needles and snakes.

Once the trucks are loaded, they head to the dump.

There, they unload everything and head back to the cleanup site to do it all again.

Their effort is backed by the community, especially local businesses.

"The tire shop is allowing us to throw away the tires for free, the dump is letting the loads go for free, the donut shop sends donuts, the pizza shop sends pizza, the stores give water, so everybody is working together. Not just us who are out here," said Ross.

At the end of each clean up, there's a before and after picture to showcase their work to the community.

"And you can see that you made a difference," said Ross.

The group says they want their city back the way it was, clean and family-friendly and they're going to do their part to make it happen.

"We're going to come out whether it's one or two people or 100 or 200 people. We're going to continue to do this," Smith said.

The group plans to meet every Saturday and Wednesday moving forward and are always looking for volunteers and donations.

For more information, you can contact the organizer, Kenneth Smith, at smithkennethandsteph@gmail.com.
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