Bayliss Boone, 17, stood next to Yejide Porter, also 17, both with plastic bags tied neatly like scarves around their heads to protect their hair from the rain pelting the Richmond shoreline on a soggy Saturday morning.
The pair was among the 250 volunteers who turned out to participate in the 29th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day. “We do this every year, we’ve been doing this since fifth grade,” Boone said. “We’re loyal to it.”
The Richmond volunteers removed a quarter ton of trash. They were a part of a worldwide campaign to remove marine debris as part of events that take place in more than 90 countries around the globe every 21st of September.
“This is the largest volunteer event on the planet,” Linda Hunter, executive director of The Watershed Project, said.
Dedication to community service is a value Roland A. Berliner, district executive at Boy Scouts of America, aims to instill in the group of children he took to the event at Shimada Friendship Park.
“If you start at a young age, it will be with them forever,” Berliner said. “When they become adults, it will be part of their culture to care for the community.”
Shamar Harrison, 10, was the oldest of the Cub Scouts that participated. He said he was excited to help the community and would share the experience with his friends at football practice later that day.
“I like wildlife and I want to work with sharks when I grow up,” Harrison said. “I like to do stuff like this, it’s more fun than staying in the house all day.”
Before grabbing bags, buckets and gloves to collect debris, volunteers attended a quick orientation led by Juliana Gonzalez of The Watershed Project.
“The educational piece is very important,” Gonzalez said. “People need to know that watersheds are connected to the ocean. Everything you throw on the ground today the rain is washing it into the ocean with no filtration.”
Although volunteers only spent about an hour on the shore, organizers were pleased about the turnout. Throughout the county four tons of trash was collected by more than 2,000 volunteers at similar events.
“It’s great though that people were willing to come out even with the threat of rain,” Supervisor John Gioia said. “They care about the community and wanted to help clean it up.”