KAPAA — Mother Earth was kind enough to allow approximately 185 volunteers to clean up Lydgate Park in honor of Earth Day without torrential rainfall.
Volunteers from all over the island, including keiki and students from Kapaa High School’s Interact Club, came together Saturday morning for a good cause, picking up trash and removing fallen leaves.
“It’s fun and it’s really good to come and help out for the community,” said Isabella Kotsol of Kapaa High’s Interact Club. “It’s Earth Day, so I figured I’d do something for the Earth.”
Kotsol and her club members were responsible for cleaning up the heiau near the beach, which was covered in fallen leaves as well as items blown up from the beach by the wind.
The heiau had to be cleaned in order to preserve its importance to the community, said Annaleah Atkinson, who supervised the students.
“This is a sacred place. It’s a place of forgiveness, contemplation, and there’s so much worry and negativity in our world that we want to keep a place of refuge a place of refuge,” she said.
Ensuring that the heiau was being restored properly was the group’s goal for the few hours they spent cleaning. As for Earth Day itself, the goal was to establish a connection between nature and the community.
“Earth Day is a chance for people to gather, work on the park and develop stewardship,” said Tommy Noyes, general coordinator for The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park. “What we’re doing here is strengthening community bonds, so that people have a safe and welcome place to meet their friends.”
A regular volunteer on Saturdays to clean up Lydgate Park, Kimo Merrin showed up especially early Saturday to join the effort.
“I volunteer here regularly on Saturdays for beach cleanups. But today is a special day because today is a full-blown cleanout of the whole park, so I had to come out and do my part,” Merrin said.
Seeing so many volunteers was a welcome sight for Noyes, who said that each year, support and volunteerism continues to grow.
“We’ve been able to build this event up over the years by involving a large number of people with support and organization,” he said. “And we find that word of mouth and friends bringing friends in really builds attendance and brings people back event after event and accomplishes our goals of building a community of resilience and strength.”