The San Diego River is fighting a battle against trash. This team is helping it win.
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Clorox

There are many words you could use to describe the San Diego River: beautiful, vital, and majestic only scratch the surface.

All photos in this post courtesy of The San Diego River Park Foundation.

If you've ever been to San Diego, you've likely heard some people refer to the river as an "emerald ribbon." It's 52 miles long and winds its way down some of the most vibrant vistas in southern California.


Walking along the riverbank, you may see one of the hundreds of species of birds that live or migrate through the area including the black-chinned hummingbird, the California condor, and the golden eagle.

On the ground, you might see a brush rabbit. Or come face-to-face with a grey fox. And, if you're really having a good animal-spotting day, you may run across a mule deer. You'll definitely brush by an abundance of vibrant plants.

Unfortunately, you'll also likely see trash.

While we all know that natural parks and waterways should be treated with respect and care, we still have a tendency to leave our litter without being mindful of it. And it often ends up polluting green spaces like The San Diego River.

Some of this trash is storm debris that washes its way down explains Juan Salgado, a volunteer leader with The San Diego River Park Foundation.

Other trash is carried into the river by the wind. But there's another, less accidental reason trash accumulates in the water and on the riverbank: People toss their garbage from their car windows as they drive by the river. While they may not think much of it, the empty soda cans and chip containers build up, endangering the wildlife that depend on that river.

It's the reason Salgado spent over 175 hours last year volunteering with The SDRPF. "I saw the massive amounts of trash," he says. He knew he had to do something about it.

The San Diego River Park Foundation is on a mission to restore the river to its original glory. Its volunteers are making that mission a reality.

"The San Diego River Park Foundation engages the community to create a better future for our San Diego River," says Ally Welborn, SDRPF's Community Engagement Manager. "Our vision includes a 52-mile river-long system of parks, trails, and open spaces."

"The San Diego River Park Foundation has a vision of achieving a trash-free river." This will not only make riparian habitats healthy for plants and animals, but also keep local green spaces beautiful and safe for people to relax and recreate in."

Volunteers are a vital part of this goal. To help keep the San Diego River trash-free, the organization appoints volunteers to scout ahead and find trash. Then, the SDRPF mobilizes volunteers to clean up the area. In 2018, they had 2,050 people helping with this work.

"Between these two tasks, volunteers are out along the River at least four times per week," says Welborn.

"Some people come out two or more times a week to haul soggy cushions, dig buried bicycle wheels out of the ground, and load heavy trash bags."

And if you want to help the river without actually getting your hands dirty, you can do that, too. All the organization's trash bags, trash pickers, gloves, and dumpsters come from donations from people who also want to see the river clean.

The cleaning The SDRPF has done isn't just important. It's transformative.

Juan Salgado cleans up The San Diego River.

At one point, there was so much trash in parts of the river that volunteers had to wade into it hip-deep. These areas now, Welborn says, are nearly trash-free.

"The difference that dedicated volunteerism and directed enthusiasm can make is astounding!"

For volunteers like Salgado, it's rewarding to be able to see the amazing difference he's made by helping de-trash.

"It's incredibly gratifying after three hours of digging through mud and dirt and lugging 40-50 pound bags of trash uphill, to look back on the space I just worked on and see nothing but the dirt, grass, and water that should be the only things there," he says.

"Our efforts have turned something that most people thought was an unlined storm drain into a beautiful bit of nature that runs directly through the center of a huge city."

Of course, that feeling of pride sometimes comes with a tinge of disappointment. The battle with trash is never-ending. But it can be won. It just requires all of our support.

If you want to help keep nature clean, beautiful, and inhabitable, you absolutely can. It just takes commitment, and sometimes, getting a little dirty.

"The problem of trash in local green spaces is an ongoing issue," Welborn says. "For anyone who's interested in solving this problem, local organizations and dedicated volunteerism can make a real difference."

Getting involved is as easy as looking for cleanups in your local area. Or starting one yourself. If you do the latter, Welborn offers this piece of advice: Be prepared for the enthusiasm to be so infectious that you won't be able to help coming back to continue working to make the green spaces pristine.

"The atmosphere of a cleanup is so uplifting," she says. "Everyone is working hard, collaborating, and cracking jokes. Once you come to one, you might get hooked!"

Clorox believes clean has the power to transforms lives, which is why they've partnered with Upworthy to promote those same traits in people, actions and ideas. Cleaning up and transformation are important aspects of many of our social good stories. Check out the rest in the campaign to read more.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Gordon Correll / Flickr and WVNews

A gay teen taking pictures at his senior prom was ridiculed by a man on Saturday outside of the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Dalton Stevens, a senior at Franklin High, was having a photoshoot with his boyfriend, college freshman Jacob Geittman, when they were verbally accosted by a man later identified as Sam Johnson, 46.

Geittman claims that Johnson got into Stevens' face as they were taking photos. This part of the incident was not captured on video.

"This man comes up and he's about an inch away from my boyfriend and he says, 'What are you wearing?' And he's like, 'A dress, why?' And he's like, 'Why are you wearing that? You shouldn't be wearing that,'" Geitmann said according to WVNews.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.