SJ nonprofit prepares for first big clean-up since thieves took thousands of dollars' worth of equipment

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Every two months, hundreds of people head to multiple creeks and rivers around the South Bay to help pick-up trash.

It's an effort led by the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition (SBCCC).

The group was recently handed the keys to an old park ranger station at 375 Santa Clara Street in Confluence Park.

As of Thursday, SBCCC leaders explained the group is still in the process of moving in. Early on, they kept equipment in a storage space.

Last week, crooks somehow got into the space and got away with $9,000 worth of supplies.

"You name it, it's all gone," SBCCC Executive Director Steve Holmes told ABC7 News.

The equipment boosted included material needed for multiple creek clean-up efforts, educational and promotional events.

Holmes shared a picture, showing a homeless man who was spotted nearby, wearing an SBCCC Team Lead shirt.

However, the disappointment isn't stopping the group's determination.

This weekend, three community clean-up efforts will continue as scheduled.

"We had to go out and buy nearly $1,000 worth of materials to get ourselves ready," Holmes said. "And you know, we're a small outfit. So, it has really made an impact on us."

One-stop on the Saturday morning agenda is the Los Gatos Creek.

ABC7 News connected with Volunteer Team Leader Mike Tamaro there, along the creek.

"For me, this is the worst," he said while looking out at piles of garbage.

Tamaro said a big element keeping the group on track this weekend is the fall fish cycle. He explained they need to clear garbage from the area before the local Chinook "King" salmon return.

Tamaro said the lack of supplies should be an interesting challenge.

"You need carts. You need bags. You need all kinds of trash pick-up equipment," he explained. "There's communications involved, so there's walkie-talkies."

SBCCC created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to replace the stolen equipment. Though they admit replacement isn't possible for other items.

"For some reason, they took our recycled trash art," Holmes said. "Items that we've created from trash that we've pulled from the streams."

These pieces were very personal to Holmes as he's been with SBCCC for 6.5-years.

"It's taken us 6.5-years to build up this array of items," he said.

He estimates SBCCC has conducted 216 clean-ups and has removed 285-tons of trash from South Bay waterways.

Holmes said the City of San Jose is also assisting in the replacement effort.

If you'd like to contribute to SBCCC's GoFundMe campaign, click here.

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