Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Photo by Camila Gonzalez

Arlington, Grand Prairie—The cities of Grand Prairie and Arlington came together for the 4th annual Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 29. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have removed over eight tons of trash from the creek. This year, more than 50 volunteers worked to clean up 1,140 pounds of trash.

The event was created by Angel Carter who is the Dallas-Fort Worth platoon leader for The Mission Continues and the operation legacy leader for the Travis Manion Foundation. However, when she started the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge, she was an Arlington resident who walked near the creek. After she left the paved walking trail to walk through the woods, she noticed all of the trash around the creek.

She picked up some trash herself, but said she was inspired to make a bigger difference by involving more people.

“God laid it on my heart,” Carter said. “I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, and I said ‘We need a cleanup.’”

Fish Creek runs through both Arlington and Grand Prairie. After the success of Arlington’s first cleanup, Grand Prairie became involved. This is the third year Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful (KGPG) has been part of the event.

“I enjoy being able to educate the community and show them a little bit about why I love the environment,” Amanda Maron, KGPB’s coordinator, said. “The stream clean ups are actually one of my favorite parts of this job, because we get to be outside. Sometimes you get a little bit muddy. Who doesn’t like to play in the mud a little bit?

“If people are proud of where they live. Then they are more likely to take actions to prevent litter, increase beautification [and] increase recycling. That sense of ownership helps the entire community.”

Carter has seen volunteer groups that are diverse in terms of age, economic status, race and religion.

“We have the most diverse cross section of the community come out for the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge,” Carter said. “I absolutely look forward to it, more than my birthday [and] more than Christmas. It is that day where I get to be out there, seeing all these smiling faces, happy hands [and] glad hearts. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

One of the volunteers at this year’s event was Ila Oxendine. It was her first time volunteering with the Fish Creek Cleanup. She said every piece of trash that is picked up makes a difference.

“There’s microtrash, the little bits of trash people don’t think about,” Oxendine said. “Like this little piece here, that little piece adds up. Not just the big pieces.”

Carter said as long as people continue to litter, events such as this will need to continue.

“When I compare what it looks like now, as a whole, compared to what it looked like four years ago, we are making a huge impact,” Carter said. “There is probably eight and a half or ten tons of trash that did not go down into our oceans because of the efforts of everyone with Grand Prairie and Arlington.”