400 Pounds at Tower 7: SaMo takes on 1,100 Volunteers

March’s Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup Removed 400 Pounds of Trash from Will Rogers Beach

400 Pounds at Tower 7: SaMo takes on 1,100 Volunteers
By Katie Osaki of Santa Monica High School Heal the Bay Club

Members from Heal the Bay at SaMo joined the March 18th, 2017 Nothin’ But Sand beach cleanup as pivotal Beach Captains—event staff volunteers who help run the cleanup for the hundreds of volunteers who scour the beach for all types of trash. Katie shares her experiences from Lifeguard Tower #7 at Will Rogers State Beach below.

The Calm Before the Volunteer Storm

Saturday morning, was a blur, a fog, a crisp breeze, a flash of sunlight. Saturday morning was filled with pulling buckets out of cars, setting up canopies, and unfolding chairs. As we set up the different tents, a string of people began to form; the 10 o’clock rush was about to start.

First, we (my friend Lorenzo and I) settled into the supply tent station, grabbing buckets and rehearsing our lines, awaiting groups of 4-6 to run up to us after they had received a safety talk at the speaker’s station. As the rush of people began flooding in, we scrambled for more buckets and searched for the seemingly disappearing pencils, as more people swept through the tent.

Supply Tent Selfie

After about thirty minutes, the rush seemed to calm and before we knew it, it was 11:15am and people were already filing back, their buckets filled with trash. From there we settled into our new station, the supply drop off tent. Here we directed people to return their supplies by separating their things into bins for trash, gloves, data cards, and pencils. Then we pointed the group to the next tent to drop off their buckets.

We frantically switched full trash bags with empty ones. As the waves of people came in, so did the trash—piling up to create 400 pounds of garbage, including three tires and one block of cement. If only we got one more tire, we could have had a full set for a car!

All the Beach Captains Rejoice After a Job Well Done

Over the course of the day, I learned how much work goes into running a beach cleanup, and how amazing it feels seeing that many people show up to volunteer their time to cleaning the beach. Seeing the line of people, knowing that I was in the midst of something amazing was a great feeling and I left knowing that I had somehow contributed. After this wonderful experience, I can’t wait for more to come!

Last week, I watched this documentary called Dirt, and within the film Wangari Maathai told of this story about a hummingbird whose forest was on fire. While all the other animals like the elephants and the raccoons and the other birds sat and watched the fire burn, the hummingbird went to the nearest lake and grabbed a drop of water and put it on the fire. After going back and forth a couple times, one of the other animals finally asked what the hummingbird was doing, because to them it seemed outrageous that such a small bird really thought that he could do anything to help, but the hummingbird responded by saying, “I am doing the best that I can.” Much like the hummingbird, while collecting 400 pounds of trash is amazing, there is still 400 times more pounds of trash scattered and buried throughout our beaches, but one clean up at a time, we are doing the best that we can.

— Katie Osaki

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