COLUMBIA — Brielle Weinreich bent down and picked up a soggy Adidas shoe as she helped clean up Bear Creek on Saturday.
Looking at the shoe, she said it used to be one of the top-of-the-line hiking shoes offered a few years ago, but now it was just trash.
Weinreich was one of 64 volunteers removing trash from Bear Creek and one of about 225 volunteers who removed a ton-and-a-half of trash from six different watersheds in Columbia on Saturday as part of the Hinkson Clean Sweep. The city of Columbia hosted the event, which has run for nine years, in conjunction with the Sierra Club.
At Bear Creek, a foam baseball bat and three-quarters of a Santa lawn decoration were in the trash haul Saturday.
Brielle Weinreich's husband, Chris Weinreich, climbed up what looked like a 45-degree incline near the bank of Bear Creek. He teamed up with volunteer Megan Lee to pull an old tire out of the ground.
"If not this group of volunteers, then who (is going to clean up the creek)?" Chris Weinreich said.
Naomi Gebo, a stream team biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Bear Creek site leader, attributed some of the mess to Bear Creek running next to a mobile home park and a residential neighborhood. She said whether it's accidental or otherwise, more people means more trash. She said the need to clean up watersheds is constant.
Gebo said she sees a lot of people volunteer more than once.
"It can be a little bit addictive," she said.
On Saturday, there were several volunteers who were there for at least the second time.
"I just like to do it," Laura Davis said.
Davis said she takes her dog, Willow, for walks on the Bear Creek trail often. She said she felt a responsibility to keep an area of the city she uses pristine.
Brielle Weinreich said she heard about the volunteer opportunity through the city of Columbia's email.
"Two hours a year is a small amount of time," she said. "I know we have a need."
Besides community members, MU students who belonged to organizations with service components made up the majority of the volunteers who signed in at Bear Creek.
Several were there to earn homecoming points for their organizations.
MU student Zachary McGowan said he wasn't overly concerned with Bear Creek but was happy to see students getting involved in the community.
Daniel Nabelek was one of five members of Mizzou Engineers Without Borders, an organization that was involved with the Hinkson Clean Sweep both last year and Saturday.
"We have a lot of people that want to do local projects," Nabelek said. "It can be fun."
Supervising editor is John Schneller.