Hailing Earth Day by caring for the ‘aina

LYDGATE — Lexi Hawks, a senior at Kapaa High School, said she spends quite a bit of time doing beach cleanup volunteer work with her school’s Key Club, but she loves the annual Earth Day Community Work Day at Lydgate Park because it’s a bigger group effort.

“There’s a lot of people here and a few of the groups from our school are here, so I’ve got a lot of friends from school volunteering today,” Hawks said. “There are so many organizations here and that makes it fun. Plus they serve us lunch.”

Hawks was one of more than 200 volunteers who flocked to the main pavilion at Lydgate Park on Saturday for a morning of service. The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park sponsored the event, with Surfrider Kauai Chapter coordinating the beach cleanup.

Barbara Wiedner, coordinator for Surfrider Kauai’s Beach Cleanups, said she had three groups of people she was sorting on Saturday instead of the usual two or three individuals.

“That’s the fun part about it, it’s a big group and they make it an event,” Wiedner said.

In addition to beach cleanup, the community workday boasted chores like park beautification, play ground structure sealing, a tree survey, picnic table painting and heiau cleanup.

Lorraine Renshaw, spokeswoman for The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, said there’s usually a big turnout at the Earth Day event and she was pleased to see that once again the community banded together to clean up the park.

“The newest thing this year is the first annual Family Fitness Swim and Run Challenge that they had before the work day started,” Renshaw said. “That probably brought a few more people in for the work day.”

The event started with a proclamation from the Mayor’s office, and then volunteers were split into groups. Then everyone scattered and worked until around noon, when they reconvened for lunch and a recap of the morning.

Brigette O’Shaughnessy, who was supervising the Kapaa High Key Club’s bridge sealing project, said she loves giving back to the island and keeping it beautiful.

“Service projects are so important and volunteering is so important,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s great to get together with a group like this and give back to our home.”

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