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Family, others volunteer to clean up Spreckels
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Trash pickup coordinator Lindsey Clark stands beaming behind the many trash bags that were filled by her volunteers Saturday morning after only an hour of the groups fanning out in the area in and around the Spreckels shopping center. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Lindsey Clark had a dream. She wanted to do her part in cleaning up Manteca. And her family bought into it.

 Her husband Brent chuckled Saturday morning while holding a trash bag, “This is my second to-do list.”

And do her part she did, with a group of volunteers who turned out to help clean up the Spreckels Shopping Center and its environs at East Yosemite Avenue and Commerce Avenues with volunteers showing up and marching in step with the Clarks.

The family, along with 14-year-old son David, pulled into the parking lot shortly before 9 a.m.  Lindsey said they really didn’t know how many people to expect to join them.  David went out on the sidewalk with a “help us clean up” poster as traffic drove by unaware of just what that meant.

At the top of the hour several cars turned into the lot and parked near their black sedan where Lindsey was already removing resources from their trunk to use in her effort.  The first car to arrive was driven by Manteca Detective Sergeant Julie Renfroe who had brought several family members including a daughter and a son.

Dressed in her work clothes, the detective had brought high visibility vests for the team to wear to protect them against parking lot motorists along with rubber gloves to protect them from possible health risks.

“It brought tears to my eyes when Julie pulled up with the vests and gloves,” Lindsey said.

The large, black garbage bags the group was using to collect the refuse came from Home Depot, she added.  The mom said she hopes to do this pick up effort at least on a monthly basis, saying that she hopes she can encourage the various fast food restaurants to offer volunteers at least a $5 gift certificate for making a difference in the commercial setting.

Lindsey is a graduate of a culinary school having studied hotel and restaurant management.  Husband Bent is a document and print management representative serving clients in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.  She said she had wanted to be a chef on a cruise ship and travel around the world.  As a child she has fond memories of being with her grandmother at health education presentations and always at her side when she was ushering at plays in San Francisco.

“We spend so much time in this area near our home, we have to do something to give back,” she said.

Sgt. Renfroe met the Clarks when they attended the monthly March Crime Stoppers 7 meeting at the police department.  The officer said she and Chief Nick Obligacion were very impressed by what they saw, realizing the loan of the vests and gloves were the least they could do to help.

They couple had heard about Crime Stoppers from their Realtor, Beverly Houdson, who noted that the group met the second Tuesday of the month and felt their help would be appreciated.

But there was even more in volunteers than the Clarks had expected with a number of police officers and their spouses showing up Saturday morning to join in the cleanup effort to located more than just common refuse – discarded clothes, apparently from homeless members of the community,  were pulled out from behind bushes.

A new Manteca family from New York did their part Saturday as well.  Michael Thomas, employed by a hospital service group working in Manteca and Stockton, brought his three sons with him to do their part in a city cleanup.  Ryan, 6, Jared, 12 and Zachary 16, donned the orange vests and blue gloves and joined in the refuse collection.

Ryan said he found straws, paper and cigarette butts to put in his trash bag.  Asked what he wants to do when he grows up brought a quick response:  “A race car driver!”

Renfroe and her 8-year-old daughter were a work team unto themselves.  At one point the youngster expressed her thoughts to her mom, “This is gross!”  as she insisted in dragging her own bag behind her.  Their sacks of trash and those others in  the group picked up were eventually taken to the city corporation yards on Wetmore Avenue where a dumpster had been set aside for them.

It was four years ago when son David was presented with the heralded Boy Scouts of America National Heroism Award for saving his sister’s life in the surf at Santa Cruz.  She was six and he was 10 years old when they were walking together near the shoreline.   His sister was sucked out into the ocean and her brother went in to save her without any thought to his own safety.

Now the teen has joined his parents in their effort to give back to the community they now call home.