By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A group in San Jose is tired of looking at dirty streets and are taking matters into their owns hands, cleaning up thrashed areas “punk rock” style.

Musician Justin Imamura and his friend, church pastor Felipe Santos, got sick of looking around at all the trash on in their Alum Rock neighborhood.

“I just decided, I’m not going to wait on anybody,” said Imamura. “I need to be the person to clean up the trash.”

So the duo formed a group called the Trash Punx. Now they’re taking on San Jose’s huge litter problem, one piece of trash at a time – with a punk rock flair. “We want to get to the nitty gritty and that’s what we do, get nice and dirty,” said Imamura, who didn’t like the style of the typical Saturday morning neighborhood cleanup crew.

So he designed a cool logo, and put it on denim vests he makes for his best volunteers.

“We go to goodwill, we get these jean vests, I cut off the sleeves. That’s the punk rock way. You just D-I-Y, do it yourself.”

The group gets dozens of volunteers, many of them young people from Santos’ inter-denominational Echo Christian church in San Jose.

“You can actually do something about your surroundings,” said Santos. “Do something about the problems that you see so they don’t stay problems, they become solutions.”

The Trash Punx also work with the city of San Jose, which provides provides gloves, pick-up sticks and trash bags – and then hauls the bags away.

“That’s the best part about volunteering with Trash Punx,” said San Jose Community Services Supervisor Olympia Williams. “They make community service look cool.”

As if all that were not enough, Imamura actually makes music from the mess. “My group is called the Street Drum Corps,” he said. “We actually make music by playing the trash cans and some of the trash items we find in the streets.”

And to him, giving back is music to his ears. “Making music out of the trash, it’s a full circle of recycling and it’s super fun,” said Imamura.

The Trash Punx, now with some 750 volunteers, have done 17 clean-up events and organized a homeless feed last Thanksgiving. Their next clean-up is on July 14th and volunteers will be offered a free pass to the Santa Clara County Fair.

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