It’s about creating connections.

That’s the real goal of a cleanup like the one that happened Saturday at Penataquit Creek in Bay Shore, according to Enrico Nardone of Seatuck Environmental Association in Islip.

“It’s about trying to get people engaged and get their feet wet and their hands dirty — and building that connection to the creek,” Nardone told GreaterBayShore on Monday. “These creeks have been so mistreated and ignored … But when you develop that personal connection, you have this basis for caring.”

Penataquit Creek once powered the largest mill in town and boasted abundant wildlife and provided recreational opportunities before it was fenced off and was degraded for over a century as the community developed around it, according to the cleanup organizers.

Recently, Seatuck, the First Baptist Church of Bay Shore and Keep Islip Clean decided to team up to restore the creek to health. Members of the Bay Shore Beautification Society and Bay Shore High School students from various clubs also helped on Saturday.

The 100-plus volunteers worked from the morning into the afternoon, filling up a 30-yard trash bin with dozens of tires, other car parts and even old piano parts.

“And mattresses that have been lying there for what seems like decades,” Nardone said.

That was just the west side of the creek.

But the efforts are far from over.

“This is the first step in a long journey,” Nardone said. “Ultimately, we’ll have a healthy, functioning creek that’s supportive of wildlife and is a resource for the community for kids to explore, for people to go birding, for botanists to talk walks. Things like that.”