Cleaning up the streets can be difficult, but a group of 11 Golden Valley High students got up Saturday morning to rise to the task.
Their job was painting over unsightly graffiti on walls and other visible surfaces in the city of Merced.
"It looks disgusting, and it makes my town look bad. I take pride in my town," said 17-year- old Golden Valley student Marylou Aguirre.
Merced police Detective Allen Adrian, with funding from a grant to his department, has been charged with investigating and preventing graffiti, in addition to creating community awareness about the issue. To assist in that effort and help clean it up, Detective Adrian enlisted student volunteers from Golden Valley High.
"The opportunity of students working together with law enforcement is a positive interaction," said Detective Raquel Rios, who helped Adrian supervise the cleanup. She added, "They didn't do (the graffiti), but they still volunteered."
Adrian said the students covered two big walls and were going to try to cover as many "high-visible" public areas as possible. The student volunteers got to work using beige paint, rollers and a sprayer to cover the graffiti.
City contractor Paul Creighton of Environmental Compliance Resources provided all the supplies and was on-site helping with the project.
Taking pride in the community they grew up in was the primary reason the Golden Valley students volunteered for the challenge.
"It's a great experience, getting to clean up the city of Merced," said Jazzy Chavez, 16.
Darlyne Miramontes, 16, thought it showed a sense of community solidarity, saying, "It shows that we're standing up, and we do care, and we're not letting graffiti happen."
Rebecca Granados, 18, of Merced echoed that sentiment. "You feel better about yourself; making Merced a better place, and getting Merced back on its feet," she said.
The student volunteers said they enjoyed the project as well. Bry Turner, 16, of Merced commented that the duty of covering up the graffiti was "very eventful, and (he) made new friends and helped out the community."
Andre Bodiker, 17, of Merced added, "I don't like graffiti, and I knew I'd have a good time cleaning it up."
The volunteers also were treated to pizza for their hard work.
Adrian plans on doing another graffiti cleanup in the spring with Merced High student volunteers. He said the grant funding lasts for another year, and he expects more graffiti abatement grants will be available in the future.