"The community spirit is high," said David Sondergeld, of Daly City, an IT manager who has volunteered to clean Thornton State Beach in that city every year for the past 24 years. "People have fun. They know they are out there doing good, and there's a camaraderie that comes from doing the work."


In the early 1990s, the beach, just south of the Olympic Club, was a mess.  "It was a dumping ground," he said. "We were pulling out car engines, wheels, tires, big stuff from the lower cliff area. We kept pulling out big stuff for the first eight years or so, but ever since it has been just litter from the beachgoers, or people who party and leave trash, along with some from homeless people."


When state parks budget cuts ended regular maintenance at the beach, Sondergeld, who runs and surfs there regularly, went to Home Depot and bought garbage cans himself. They were eventually stolen, so he contacted a garbage company, Allied Waste, to provide cans and empty them weekly. This year, about 200 people cleaned the beach, many of them students from Ben Franklin Middle School and Jefferson High in Daly City.