Nearly two dozen local church members along with city of Tehachapi employees — all volunteering their time — canvased the area around Hays and I streets Saturday to tidy up the neighborhood.

The free labor with a small fleet of trucks and trailers helped residents discard unsightly trash and heavy, bulky items.

City Councilman Phil Smith, in whose district the cleanup took place, loaded refuse onto the trucks and trailers and thanked the many volunteers and residents for their “help in keeping the district clean and safe for everyone."

And that's the idea. These cleanup days are a blessing to those with limited physical capabilities, senior citizens, and those with transportation issues.

Volunteers drove around, picking up curbside and even backyard items that normally could not be removed with only regular waste barrels picked up weekly.

Refrigerators, washers, couches, tree trunks, old cabinetry and anything that was not hazardous was loaded on to volunteer vehicles and hauled over to six Waste Management roll-offs, which were quickly filled.

City staff sent out informational fliers a few weeks ago notifying residents of the event. In addition to this pre-notification, in many instances, neighbors started helping neighbors, and the nearby streets were soon busy with cleanup activities.

City community engagement specialist Key Budge, with gloves on and sweat on his face, said that in as little as four hours, six of the large dumpsters were filled.

Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger approached the City Council with this cleanup idea several months ago, saying community policing is important.

"Our code enforcement officer goes out and identifies those neighborhoods in need of assistance and we respond," said Kroeger, who pulled on gloves to work "I live here also, and it's a proven fact that clean, well cared for neighborhoods deter crime, tagging, vandalism. The quality of life for our citizens is reflected in well-maintained streets, alleys and yards."

As he helped load one of the dumpsters, homeowner Domenic Moen said, “This is a great program; it surely will help build pride in my neighborhood.”

The goal, according to Tehachapi Police Foundation President Kim Nixon, is to “go council district by council district over the next months and address those issues of concern as found by Tehachapi Code Enforcement Officer Anthony Bonelli. Local residents are encouraged to participate at every step of the cleanup process.”