San Diego

Teen Organizes Mission Bay Trash Pickup to Raise Over $4K for Migrant Families

The trash pickup event, unlike the six protests around town, was non-political

Some people like to talk about problems, others like to fix them.

Fourteen-year-old Kenan Pala falls in the second category, but Saturday morning in Mission Bay, the only number that matters was the amount of trash collected.

Pala organized a clean-up day at De Anza Cove, inviting families with children to help families with children.

On a day when activists around the nation rallied together over immigration issues, Pala’s event was pointedly low-key but the goal was the still the same.

“For every pound of trash we collect here today we'll be donating $50 to an organization up in Escondido that will help with the legal fees for helping these immigrant families that were separated," he said.

After the volunteers had picked up 85 pounds of trash, the donation added up to $4,250 and will go to Interfaith Community Services for their immigration services.

Saturday’s event, unlike the six protests around town, was non-political. Pala just wants to help in any way he can.

“Not choosing sides,” he said. “We just want to help reunite these families.”

Last year, Pala started a nonprofit called Kids4Community with the idea no one is too young to help. The reason?

“Because when I was younger and I wanted to volunteer I found it hard to volunteer due to these mandatory age limits," he said.

To keep younger children interested in Saturday’s trash pickup, Pala made trash bingo cards with prizes going to those who connect lines with specific items.

The son of Turkish immigrants Pala learned early on the value of giving back.

“They (his parents) have been so grateful for what America has done to them that I’ve just grown up in this atmosphere of volunteering,” he said.

To date, he's organized dozens of charitable events including dinners for the less fortunate, hurricane relief, and now a trash pickup.

Contact Us