Volunteers scour for trash

Published 9:53 pm Saturday, June 2, 2018

Approximately 170 volunteers hit Suffolk’s streets, parks and waters in sweltering Saturday morning heat to clean up the city as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 30th annual Clean the Bay Day.

Families and individuals gathered at five cleanup locations across Suffolk for gloves, grabbers, bags and safety vests to collect garbage and debris in one of the best years yet for the annual cleanup, according to Suffolk Litter Control Coordinator Wayne Jones, who organized the event locally.

“Two years ago, we only had about 50 people, and before that we had only 30, so this is pretty awesome,” Jones said.

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More than 3,000 pounds of trash were collected by volunteers between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday, according to Jones, including large pieces of wood, discarded televisions, soccer balls, a shopping cart and about 30 tires. Some of the most common trash came from local fast food restaurants and businesses, Jones said.

“We have some fast food and other businesses that need to do better housekeeping in their parking lots and Dumpster areas,” he said.

The police department sent volunteers to help with the trash and help keep other volunteers safe. About 70 Cub and Boy Scouts, parents and siblings cleaned up Lake Meade Park, and other families spread to Bennett’s Creek Park and the rest of the city.

Virginia Master Naturalists and Nansemond River Preservation Alliance members also donated time and sweat, and the Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America brought kayaks and canoes to wade through the Nansemond River.

“It’s important for us to come out and support this community effort,” said Tim Doxey, media representative for the Suffolk-Nansemond IWLA. “We’re a conservation group, and Clean the Bay Day perfectly fits into our own efforts.”

CBF officials stated in a Saturday press release that about 6,000 volunteers at more than 250 sites statewide removed 128,817 pounds of litter and debris across an estimated 312 miles of shoreline.  The most common items found in those three hours were plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

“Everyone came together this year to make a huge improvement to our waterways and communities,” CBF Hampton Roads Grassroots Manager Tanner Council stated in the press release. “From the event’s founders to brand new volunteer recruits and everyone in between, we all worked together to make a big difference.”

Since 1989, approximately 158,000 volunteers for Clean the Bay Day have removed more than 6.6 million pounds of debris from more than 7,600 miles of shoreline. Concerned citizens have turned the first Saturday in June into an annual Virginia tradition, Council said in a phone interview Saturday.

“It’s amazing to see this become more like a holiday each year,” he said. “We see people come out of the woodwork from all over. It’s become a real Virginia tradition.”