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Volunteer opportunities still available for beach cleaning effort

October 10, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

There are many opportunities for the Fort Myers Beach community to get involved in this weekend's International Coastal Cleanup efforts.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 13. The locations on Fort Myers Beach include Lovers Key State Park Event Field, which is across the street from Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd.; Dog Beach/Four Corners, 8800 Estero Blvd; Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, 2751 Oak St. and Wyndham Garden Hotel, 6890 Estero Blvd.

Keep Lee County Beautiful Program Coordinator Mike Thomas said Lovers Key and Fort Myers Beach Elementary School are the two largest sites on the beach. Elementary school volunteers will be sent to a certain spot down the beach at various access points.

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"They would come back to the elementary school with their trash," Thomas explained. "We will have a Dumpster there to dispose of trash."

The Lovers Key site, which is taking care of the southern end of the island, Bonita Springs area, will also have a dumpster.

City of Bonita Springs Community Relations Specialist Kendra Gilreath said they have been involved in the event for approximately 10 years. In years past the event has attracted between 800 to 1,000 people.

"It has been hosted for the last five years at the location across from Lover's Key, before that it was hosted in the parking lot near Doc's," she said. "The city partners with Keep Lee County Beautiful to host our Coastal Cleanup Event. As a city, we try to line our events in line with council's strategic objectives. In this case, we aim to meet our goal to protect the environment of our city."

The clean-up allows residents, who take pride in their city, to come out and help maintain the city's cleanliness and keep their beaches beautiful, Gilreath said.

The event kicks off with a breakfast, sponsored by Doc's Beach House, which offers donuts, coffee, muffins and granola bars for the volunteers.

"Volunteers can clean any area they would like to clean," she said. "Some volunteers clean at beach access near Lover's Key, some clean on Lover's Key Beach, and others will work in areas under the bridge."

Such items as cigarette butts, glass bottles and tissue paper are common trash found during the clean-up.

"At our events, we hold a contest that asks volunteers to showcase a strange item they've found while cleaning up," Gilreath said. "Last year, a volunteer collected a broken television."

Wyndham Garden Hotel, Thomas explained, is a popular spot on the beach due to personal watercraft rentals, and just a lot of activity.

As far as Four Corners, there is a dog beach located there with a small bridge.

"The Four Corners are the four corners of the bridge. People make a big mess there. On the gulf side of the bridge, it's almost like a little bay. It's actually quite nice. People have their blankets out and you can set up there and go swimming," Thomas said.

On the bridge side, people are notorious for leaving their cigarette butts, as well as candy wrappers and plastic items, he said.

"Wyndham and Dog Beach are in-between the elementary school and Lovers Key," Thomas said.

Those who would like to get involved in the cleanup are asked to pre-register at There is a link on the page that says "be a volunteer."

"Students can get service hour credit for volunteering at the event. They just bring their school form to the registration tent and we will sign it for them after they help clean up. It's a great way for students to give back to the community while earning credits," Gilreath said.

Thomas said registration is down a little bit because of red tide.

The International Coastal Cleanup was supposed to take place on Sept. 15, but was pushed back four weeks for that reason.

"We wanted to give the waters a chance to clear up," Thomas said.

Although pre-registration is suggested, they also get walk-ons the day of, which sometimes includes individuals enjoying the beach that day.

"People will go, 'Oh, can I help?' and grab gloves and trash bags," Thomas explained. "That's always great when you see that happening. It's neat when people are here on vacation. They feel good about it."

The International Coastal CleanUp event helps bring awareness to the community of what kind of harm trash has on the environment and wildlife.

For instance, cigarette butts, if consumed by a turtle, or bird, could possibly kill them.

"A lot of times it makes them feel full, or gets caught in their throat," Thomas said.

In the last five years, Keep Lee County Beautiful efforts have brought together 11,000 volunteers to remove more than 90,000 pounds of trash from Lee County waterways.



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