Group of homeless campers work together during clean-up event on American River Parkway

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- There are many clean-up events along the American River Parkway but of the 40 or so volunteers cleaning trash and garbage along the river Monday, half were homeless campers who actually live there.

The clean-up was organized by a group called Mercy Pedalers, a faith-based organization that engages the homeless on bicycles and tricycles. They try to connect with homeless campers through conversation and understanding their plight while helping with services like medical care and housing.

On Monday, they were able to enlist the help of homeless campers like Antoine Robinson, who has lived along the river for five years. He spent the week gathering trash.

"I like to clean. I like to clean my area and stuff because I don't like no dirt," Robinson said.

Mercy Pedalers’ Executive Director Sister Libby Fernandez said assumptions should not be made about homeless individuals.

"This is their environment and they want it to be clean and neat but they need the materials and the means," Fernandez told FOX40.

With trash bags, rakes and grippers, they nearly filled a 40-cubic-yard dumpster in just a few hours.

The area at the end of North 7th Street was once shielded from the public by commercial buildings along Richards Boulevard.

But the relatively new Two Rivers Park and the Township 9 housing development make the area more visible and more accessible.

Despite the clean-up effort, there was still much more to do.

Fernandez said having so many homeless volunteers was encouraging and the group is planning to hold regular clean-up events involving the homeless.

"I hope it stays like this," Robinson said.

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