Keep Lee County Beautiful draws good Cape contingent
The fourth annual canal cleanup, which was hosted by the city of Cape Coral and partnered with Keep Lee County Beautiful, attracted 75 volunteers Sunday morning to help beautify the community be getting rid of debris.
Harry Phillips, with the Environmental Resource Office, said the cleanup kicked off at 8 Sunday morning with many volunteers beginning at their canals in either kayaks or boats before they concluded at the Yacht Club around noon.
The volunteers helped clean up Bernice Braden Park, Jaycee Park, Sirenia Vista, the Lake Kennedy area, along with the Skyline and Gleason area of Cape Coral.
“We typically send them to water front parks because stuff gets left behind,” he said about the coastal neighborhoods.
Last year the annual cleanup day brought out more than 100 volunteers who collected more than 3,000 pounds of debris. The first year, Phillips said they collected about 1,500 pounds of trash with about 75 volunteers.
“We have a lot of help from the community,” he said about the repeat volunteers who come out every year.
Phillips said the canal cleanup is typically held every March because of the nice weather and the winter visitors.
The volunteers are encouraged to pick up anything that is considered trash, Phillips said, which typically includes plastic, Styrofoam and building materials.
“Most of it is typically street trash that blows into the canal,” he said.
Many of the volunteers who gave their time Sunday morning were parents and their kids, groups of high school volunteers and kayakers. The Kiwanis Club donated nets and gloves to collect the debris for Sunday’s canal cleanup day. After the work was done, the volunteers were treated to pizza and drinks.
Ruth and Carey Parks have donated their time for the past four years to help keep the canals by their home clean.
Carey said he wanted to be involved in the cleanup because he sees trash float by in the canal all the time.
On Sunday the couple found wooden pieces, tires, tackle boxes, plastic bags, soda bottles, cabinet doors and construction materials. Six trash bags were full with the smaller items they found.
Carey and Ruth frequently head out in the canals on their kayaks to collect any trash that they find to help keep their community clean, along with making sure that the wildlife have a clean environment to live in.
The Parks encourage individuals to go out and clean their front yard and neighborhoods, along with teaching their children not to litter to keep Cape Coral looking beautiful. Ruth said if ipeople put their trash inside of bags before they put it into their trash cans on the curb it would also help decrease the amount of litter because the trash would not fall out while being lifted into the garbage truck.
Ida Baker High School senior Lauren Freitag also joined in on the efforts to collect as much debris as she could Sunday morning. She spent two hours collecting trash off the canals on Skyline.
Freitag said she found a bike, beer cans and bottles during her cleanup efforts.
She attended the event because she enjoys cleaning her community, along with needing community volunteer hours for school.
“Whenever I see trash I pick it up,” Freitag said. “I like doing it.”
Since she was surprised with the amount of trash she found on Sunday, she she and her boyfriend are going to start walking around and picking up trash so she can help keep the canals clean.
Marine Officer Robert Slager also joined in on the efforts Sunday morning.
He said he drove the boat around the canals because he is trying to clean up the city.
When out on the water, he mostly found plastic bags, pieces of wood, bottles, plastic containers and planks. He also found shopping carts and a swing of some kind that looked like it might have been there since Hurricane Charley. He said he was not able to get it out of the canal because it was under a bridge.
Phillips encourages everyone to pick up the trash that they find in their neighborhoods on a weekly or monthly basis. The simple task would help the yearly cleanup that is conducted for the canals.
“If you see something in your driveway, pick it up,” he said. “It will make a huge difference on how much stuff ends up in the canals.”
Once the garbage hits the water, Phillips said it is that much harder to collect and disposed of properly.