Volunteers line up to help the Chesapeake Bay

Published 10:52 pm Friday, April 16, 2010

Last year, Darin Kwasniewski was one of 130 volunteers who got up early on a Saturday to clean up trash.

Kwasniewski participated in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clean the Bay Day, an annual event that gathers volunteers to pick up trash throughout the region. This year’s cleanup is scheduled for June 5, but volunteer registration has already begun.

“Me and my wife decided this would be a good idea,” Kwasniewski said. “Only a few hours out of our day once a year certainly can’t hurt, and it probably will help.”

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Kwasniewski and his wife first volunteered three years ago, and Kwasniewski became a zone captain last year. As a zone captain, he is responsible for signing in volunteers, distributing supplies and bottled water, and manning the first aid kit to tend to injuries.

He said the annual cleanup can be hot and dirty at times, but it helps the environment.

“It’s not a fun thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do, and it’s rewarding,” Kwasniewski said.

This year, volunteers in Suffolk will clean Bennett’s Creek Park, Lone Star Lakes, Route 58, and the Nansemond River Bridge on Route 17.

Last year’s Suffolk volunteers rounded up 6,554 pounds of trash, said Hattie Lester, the city’s litter control coordinator. The debris included 2,005 cigarette butts, 2,785 plastic bottles and cups, and 1,171 aluminum containers.

Some of the more unusual items found included a home radiator, a portion of a car bumper, a bed frame and a pickup truck liner, Lester said.

Kwasniewski said that while last year’s cleanup was dirty and uncomfortable, he still made some friends at the event and helped the environment.

“It’s not the enjoyment of picking up trash, but the reward of helping out our environment and helping future generations, and keeping our city clean,” he said. “It needs to be done, and somebody’s got to do it.”

Volunteers are encouraged to clean up trash, by foot or by boat, with their families, civic organizations and business groups. Boaters can bring kayaks, canoes and other shallow water boats, and larger boats can be used as collection points for smaller boats.

Kwasniewski encouraged people to come out and volunteer.

“It’s not a glamorous thing … but you have to have a sense of it’s not just you, it’s going to be for future generations,” he said. “We have to leave a better world today than what we have.”

People who want to register to volunteer in Suffolk can do so online at www.cbf.org/clean, or by calling 514-7604.