OCEANSIDE — More than 1,000 volunteers pitched in to paint houses, weed yards and haul trash in the Eastside neighborhood during the tenth annual SUN Project Oct. 22.
For ten years the annual cleanup project has spruced up the curb appeal of 40 to 50 houses on a selected street of low-income households.
“The same thing happens this year, house painting and trash removal,” said Dave Manley, manager of neighborhood services and code enforcement. “We haven’t done the same street twice.”
It is a three-hour blitz of high-spirited, heavy hands on work to paint, weed and remove trash. Many volunteers come back year after year to help out.
Mike Dengler is a Public Works Department worker who has volunteered for 10 years to drive a bulldozer and scoop up trash with the SUN Project.
“It’s interesting to come out and see the results,” Dengler said. “That’s why I keep coming back.”
Volunteers Carlos Gonzalez and Priscilla Delgado like to help out in their community. They look for community cleanup projects they can participate in and have also helped at the Main Avenue cleanup in Fallbrook.
Homes in Eastside, Crown Heights and Montecito neighborhoods have benefited from the SUN Project.
The results are long lasting. Streets that have been cleaned up in previous years tend to stay well maintained.
The longevity of the ten-year project allows cleanup efforts to move like clockwork. Supplies are purchased and donated, volunteers sign up on the city website. Public Works Department volunteers brings in tractors and haul trash, and Waste Management workers move debris off site.
“The same items are hauled away every year, household items, things that have accumulated in garages and yards,” Manley said.
Manley is uncertain if the successful program will continue next year. While there is no lack of hands to help, grant funding and sponsorships may not be available or sufficient to continue. It takes $25,000 to $30,000 to run the annual cleanup event.
“In this economy, it may not happen,” Manley said. “It’s tough getting donations and sponsorships. We have the same number of volunteers, but a third of the funding we originally had.”
Efforts this year made a big impact on the neighborhood, but costly repairs like replacing fences and garage doors could no longer be included. For now it is “wait and see” on weather or not the project will continue next year.