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Volunteers needed: Earth Day cleanup set for April 23

By Staff | Apr 15, 2016

Volunteers can still sign up to clean up their neighborhoods and communities on Earth Day.

Keep Lee County Beautiful will host the 27th annual Great American Cleanup on April 23 at 12 sites in Lee County. Launched by Keep America Beautiful, the Great American Cleanup runs March to May.

Trish Fancher, executive director of Keep Lee County Beautiful, explained that the mission behind the event is two-fold – to remove litter and debris from beaches, roads and parks and build awareness.

“To educate those who are and are not getting involved as to why it’s important to keep our community clean,” she said, adding that any debris eventually ends up in the waterways, especially in Florida.

“It’s important for us to remove it, but it’s also important for us to get out there in massive force,” Fancher said.

In Cape Coral, one cleanup location will be the Cape Coral Burnt Store public boat ramp. The site has been taking part in the Great American Cleanup for 20 years. The cleanup runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

In the beginning, the location would net between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds of debris.

“Now, we’re only expecting about 10 percent of that,” she said.

“We’re making process, we’re making a difference, but we have to stay vigilant,” Fancher said.

People can register to volunteer in advance or day of.

Volunteers will be provided with supplies, like gloves, trash bags and such.

“If they want to bring their own work gloves that’s phenomenal because we only have so many,” she said.

Water will also be provided.

“In that location, in particular, some people will be cleaning the canals,” Fancher said.

Owners of boats, kayaks and canoes are encouraged to sign up with their vessels.

“For the most part, they’re collecting causal litter and debris,” she said, referring to bottles and food wrappers. “Stuff intentionally thrown out windows or unintentionally blown out of truck beds.”

In the past, items like tires and appliances have been recovered.

“We do sometimes find some pockets of heavier debris,” Fancher said.

A volunteer appreciation luncheon is planned for afterward.

She noted that volunteers get exercise and chance to socialize with neighbors.

“That event usually has about 150 people,” Fancher said.

“And it’s a great opportunity for kids to earn their community service hours,” she added.

Volunteers do not have to stay for the entire three hours.

“If they can come and give one hour, that’s fine,” Fancher said.

For those who want to help, wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and light clothing.

“I would definitely say closed-toe shoes,” she said.

Fancher also recommended that volunteers bring a friend.

“They can walk around together,” she said.

While it might not seem like a big difference, every little bit helps.

“Even one straw that’s not ending up in a turtle’s mouth is huge,” Fancher said. “It’s important that we keep showing the next generation coming up why it’s important.”

For more information or to register, visit: KLCB.org or call (239) 334-3488.