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NEARLY THREE-DOZEN people gave up a part of their weekend this past Saturday to take part in a community cleanup event at Roberts Island in San Joaquin County, organized by the Port of Stockton along with partner organizations, tenants and members of the community.

The initiative was part of Clean California Community Days — Spring Into Action, a state-wide 11-day event that concluded Monday. It was sponsored by the Governor’s Office and Caltrans.

About 35 volunteers from the community, Port of Stockton, Caltrans and several organizations gathered outside the Port Administration building on Washington Street to collect their cleanup kits before joining a parade of cars on Highway 4 headed to the Roberts Island area.

Volunteers as young as eight wasted no time braving the cold winds and the steep slopes along Burns Cutoff, as they cleaned out several tons of trash including broken TV sets and other household electronics and appliances off the road.

Eight-year-old Kai Carrillo came out from Elk Grove with his father for the clean-up.

“I’m volunteering here today because I want to help our community with all the trash,” Carrillo said. “Most of the trash goes into the ocean, and we don’t want that in the ocean.”

Kai Carrillo, 8, finds a gaming controller during a community cleanup event at Roberts Island in the Delta on Saturday. He and his father came from Elk Grove to volunteer. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Jeff Wingfield, deputy director of Regulatory and Public Affairs at Port of Stockton, was also on hand to help the clean-up.

“This is a pretty isolated area, and you will see a lot of people come in and dump more and more trash,” he said. “But if there’s no trash here, littering will gradually reduce.”

Wingfield said the Port plans to host at least four such events a year.

Hard Ken Singh makes it look easy as he tosses an armchair into the trash container during the community cleanup event at Roberts Island in San Joaquin County on March 25, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Among the volunteers were members from several organizations such as the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, the Sierra Club and California Conservation Corps, as well as District 5 Council Member Brando Villapudua.

“This is part of my district,” Villapudua said. “Anyone caring about the water should be out here, getting your hands dirty and giving back to the community.”

Edith Villapudua is running for State Senate and was also at the event, along with Greg Zavala, who said he intends to run for City Council.

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.