FRENCH CAMP, Calif. (KTXL) — Repeatedly trashed and vandalized, a 111-year-old Jewish cemetery in San Joaquin County is finally getting cleaned up.
So far, 12,000 pounds of trash have been hauled away, including tires destined for the recycling center. A volunteer San Joaquin County Jail inmate rolled off with one on Thursday, a small but helpful part of a major cleanup that Marc Corren had worked so hard for.
“If you saw the garbage I’ve hauled out of here the last two years,” says Marc Corren, a volunteer at Temple Israel of Stockton. “It became obvious to me that if not for you, who are you expecting to protect sacred ground?”
Corren said over the past two years, he has felt profound sadness with the piles of trash and human waste that have littered the cemetery.
“Imagine coming in to see the graves of your parents and you find that someone’s in here cooking food that’s illegally tapped into your electrical system,” he said.
Vandals have also used the gravestones to dry their clothes, along with tearing down the back fence and destroying the cemetery’s pump.
“(They) left the hose on for 24 hours,” Corren said. “Hundreds of gallons went onto the ground and made that grave sink.”
The cemetery is run by a network of volunteers who tried their best to fix the mess, but Corren said people kept breaking in. So, he reached out to law enforcement, as well as city and county leaders.
“The great Sheriff Withrow. He took this and championed our cause,” Corren told FOX40.
Deputy Alan Sanchez of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department said not only was the cleanup important, providing local resources was integral.
“We’re gonna do our best to not only eradicate that area but also offer services to the people who live here,” Sanchez said.
Some of the damage is still left, but Corren’s gratitude is limitless, especially given his family history.
“My father liberated a Nazi concentration camp, a death camp,” he said. “So, I do it out of respect for him.”
Corren estimates the damage at more than $10,000. He said he will be raising funds to help pay for the repairs.