Kids give Eastside beaches some TLC

WAILUA — Armed with rubber gloves, trash bags of plastic, mesh, and even

recycled feed bags, about 250 students from three local schools descended on

Lydgate Park for the first Aloha United Way of Kaua’i “Youth Day of Caring”

event on Saturday morning.

Their task for the morning was to scour the

shorelines of beaches from Nukoli’i to Wailua and clean marine debris and

trash, which had amassed there.

Loretta Geis, the AUW coordinator for the

cleanup, was already on hand with her volunteer staff garbed in white T-shirts

especially designed for the event.

The adult staff included AUW office

members, teacher and parent advisors from the participating schools, volunteer

paramedics from American Medical Response, Kaua’i Police Department, Kaua’i

Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the American Red Cross.

These

volunteer chaperones were strategically placed with five groups of students

from Kaua’i High, Kapa’a High and Island School, all of whom were readily

identified by the colored flags that flapped atop tall bamboo

staffs.

Transported from Lydgate Park to their designated cleanup site by a

Polynesian Adventure Tours bus, “Da Purple Group” dispersed at Nukoli’i Beach

with a trio from Kapa’a High School, Herbi Faima, Meryssa Tunac, and Glen

Ramos, setting out with a task assigned to them. This was the recorder

squad.

Similar recorder teams were designated for each of the beach cleanup

crews.

Working in an area darkened from a combination of accumulated

debris, burnt out campfires, and discarded containers, Faima explained their

assignment was to collect and record one of each item found in their locality

which ranged from the end of the reef until the start of the rocky shoreline

east of the Outrigger Kaua’i Beach Hotel.

As the purple group fanned out

across the beach, early risers from a camping family peeked curiously at the

uniformed group of 40 students.

“I had to wake up earlier than if I went

to school,” Rosanna Ichimura, a student at Kaua’i High School didn’t seem to

mind as the sun warmed her and Sara Ahn, the students’ fingers deftly screening

the sand for bits of plastic and other debris. Both students were on hand

representing the school’s National Honor Society.

Meanwhile, Nile Grimpas

and Nikolo Okami, Kapa’a High School students, stopped their task long enough

to help Kassi Hassan and Fawna Kiefer wrestle a large piece of rope into a

trash bag made unwieldy by the brisk breeze blowing from offshore. Squeals of

laughter punctuated the chore.

“This is an opportunity for students to

become more involved with the AUW,” Geis pointed out.

“It also allows the

youth to give something back to the community,” she said, obviously pleased

with the large turnout for the first event of this type.

“The students

started from about eight this morning, and will end at noon with a lunch,” Geis

said. “They will gather back here at Lydgate with their recorded data, and Don

Heacock of the DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) will analyze

their findings.”

“This seminar will give students an education on the

impact and danger of marine debris and trash to the shoreline,” she said.

Geis pointed out that this effort was the first one coordinated by the

AUW, and because the event was not in the AUW budget, it was through the

contributions of the labor unions that students and volunteers were able to get

the T-shirts, lanyards, and lunch.

Danny Sagadraca, a paramedic with AMR,

checked in with Geis, indicating that everything was okay at the Lydgate area

and he would be moving down to check on groups scouring the area in back of the

Wailua Golf Course, and the Nukoli’i area.

Ross Shimbukuro, one of the

Kaua’i High School advisors stopped his cleanup long enough to enjoy the antics

of a group tossing a football while they re-energized from the cleanup effort.

In the parking lot, Kapa’a High School Jr. ROTC advisor Major Jerald Knudsen

smiled in appreciation of the efforts extended by his troops.

Geis is

already looking towards making this an annual affair.

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