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Scores of Volunteers Join in Day of Caring and Cleanup


From scrubbing down schools to picking up trash on the shore, hundreds of Ventura County residents gave up part of their weekend Saturday to spruce up their neighborhoods and beaches.

The scores of volunteers turned out for the United Way's annual Day of Caring and the statewide Coastal Cleanup Day.

Along with all the work being done, the United Way used the occasion to announce its goal of raising $5.7 million from local businesses this year. That compares to $5.35 million last year.

The announcement comes after reports last week that the group will cut its budget in the next three years to avoid a projected $300,000 deficit. The plan calls for deferring payment of grants for eight months and laying off employees.

Despite those money woes, the group's work goes on, officials said.

On Saturday, about 700 United Way volunteers worked for several hours at more than a dozen locations, sprucing up schools, parks and social service agencies.

At the Moorpark Boys & Girls Club, volunteers cleaned up the damage done recently by vandals, repainting walls and fixing up the inside of the building.

"It's tremendous to see how enthusiastically folks have come forward to lend a hand," said Byron Rimm, a manager for Procter & Gamble and a United Way volunteer.

While men and women in shorts and T-shirts were painting and spackling inside the club, Thousand Oaks loan executive Jim Kuyper was building new shelves.

"People come out here because it feels good to help," said Kuyper, who volunteers for United Way throughout the year, making presentations to local companies to encourage charitable giving.

"I think people need to be needed," he said. "And when they do this kind of thing, it shows them that they are."

Along with the work at the Moorpark Boys & Girls club, United Way volunteers cleaned up schools in Oxnard, Ventura, Fillmore and Ojai and spruced up a bike path in Simi Valley and the Botanical Gardens in Thousand Oaks.

While United Way volunteers worked inland, others hit the beach.

At San Buenaventura State Beach, about 30 people showed up early in the morning to pick up everything from cigarette butts to plastic wrappers and discarded soda cans.

"It's just the right thing to do," said John Hogan, who was searching the sand near the Ventura pier with his wife, Janet, and two daughters, Heather, 9, and Hilary, 8.

Although the trash pickings were slim at San Buenaventura State Beach because of work done to groom the area in anticipation of this weekend's California Beach Festival, other portions of the county's 42 miles of coastline were not so pristine.

At Surfers Knoll on the south side of the Ventura Harbor and down to the Santa Clara River mouth, volunteers accumulated three dozen large bags of trash and recyclables in little more than an hour.

During the sweep, volunteers found two bicycles, shopping carts, paint buckets, a pair of sneakers, a sleeping bag and hundreds of beer bottles.

"Some people just throw this stuff out like that without thinking," said Janet Shultz, who spent the morning picking up mostly beer bottles and cans with her husband, Don.

The volunteers all kept a careful record of what they picked up. The results are compiled by the California Coastal Commission.

On Saturday, volunteers removed more than 20,000 pounds of trash and more than 3,000 pounds of recyclables, according to the commission.

Last year, volunteers in Ventura County bagged about 12,000 pounds of trash and picked up about 2,000 pounds of recyclable material, said Kathleen Wiens, who helped organize the Ventura County cleanup.

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