DOUGLAS — A handful of students from Cochise College were among a group of local residents who spent a few hours on Valentine’s Day Sunday assisting in a community cleanup effort that is quickly becoming a monthly tradition.

This was the fifth time in six months Desiree Rice of Classy Cuts & Such and the Douglas Business Network have hosted the community cleanup. Sunday’s turnout, which was estimated at 25-30 people, was the largest since the event began in September.

Enough volunteers showed up Sunday that the group was actually able to split up, with one group cleaning up garbage in the downtown area while the other “attacked” the vacant lots across from Food City on San Antonio Avenue.

“I’m completely overwhelmed by how many people showed up today,” Rice said. “I was not expecting a crowd this large. I’ve never had a crowd this big at one of my events before. I’m so impressed and appreciative to everyone who took a few hours out of their Sunday to help clean up our community.”

Rice added if she continues to get crowds the size she had Sunday it will be just a matter of time, she will have Douglas cleaned up.

“I really want to thank Abraham Villareal and Norma Brandenburg of Cochise College for bringing their students today,” she said. “It really meant a lot to me they showed up. They were a big help.”

Brandenburg said the students she brought to the cleanup were part of a community service volunteer club based at Cochise College group called “Club Trio.”

“We are a community service volunteer club,” she said. “We take part in events like what we did today. Today we had 14 students show up. I’m happy we were able to get involved today and help out.”

Brandenburg said because of COVID-19 it’s been hard to get involved in events such as this, and when her group found out about the community cleanup they found a way to make it work.

“Because of the rain that we had earlier, the weather and the fact it was Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd we would have,” she said. “I’m very happy with the turnout.”

Once the cleanup was done, Nan’s Lunchbox on First Street treated all the volunteers to lunch, which consisted of bacon-wrapped burritos and french fries.

Chatitas on 10th Street treated one lucky winner, Huy Dang, one of the Cochise College students who participated, to a free dinner. Dang was selected from a random drawing that included all the names of the volunteers.

Rice is planning another cleanup day in March. She said the date has not yet been selected and will be announced in the coming weeks.