Volunteers sought for New Year’s Beach Sweep | Local News

St. Simons Islanders Jen and Mike Hatcher want clean beaches for the start of 2022 and they know it cannot happen without help.

The Hatchers and Keep Golden Isles Beautiful are inviting civic-minded folks to join them Saturday morning for the Fifth Annual New Year’s Day Beach Sweep. Bags and gloves will be provided for all who show up at 8:30 a.m. at the Coast Guard Station Beach walkover.

Volunteers will spread out in teams to pick up trash from beaches, walkovers and beach parking lots.

Jen Hatcher said the annual event is a good way to start the new year on a positive note and to establish a yearlong commitment for clean beaches in the Golden Isles.

“We have a responsibility to this planet and it starts here at home,” she said. “I don’t think anyone wants to sit on a dirty beach, swim in trash-filled water or kill the marine life that calls the ocean home. But lots of what’s left on the beach goes out to sea and pollutes it and doing so endangers marine life.”

The Hatchers hatched the idea for the event while walking the beaches on the morning of Jan. 1, 2017, when they encountered trash left behind from impromptu fireworks shows. For the record, while fireworks are legal in Georgia, it is illegal to shoot fireworks on the beach. It is illegal, in fact, to shoot fireworks on any public property in Glynn County.

The Hatchers went to the folks at Keep Golden Isles Beautiful with their plan for an annual beach cleanup to start each year. KGIB Executive Director Lea King-Badyna and her staff of one, faithful assistant Christy Throwbridge, depend strongly on volunteers for the success of their many efforts to promote recycling and environmental awareness in the community.

The first Beach Sweep took place Jan. 1, 2018.

“We were walking on the beach the next morning and found a bunch of trash left over from New Year’s festivities,” Hatcher said. “Lots of fireworks debris, lots of it. So we spent that morning cleaning it up as we walked. We thought it would be great to have a yearly cleanup and get the community involved.”

The annual Beach Sweep has become more than just a feel-good event as evidenced by the haul of trash removed from the beach each year.

To start 2021, 43 volunteers turned out and picked up 300 pounds of litter, King-Badyna said. Some 40 volunteers removed 440 pounds of litter on the first day of 2019.

Last year’s heavy haul is even more impressive considering the volunteers are often tasked with focusing on small but damaging trash such as fireworks debris, bottle caps, cigarette butts and the like, along with all the large chunks of litter.

“The annual New Year’s Beach Sweep has become an important tradition in the community and one that makes a big difference in the health of our community,” King-Badyna said. “Volunteers like the Hatchers are vital to keeping the Golden Isles beautiful.”

To register or for more information, contact KGIB at 912-279-1490, or email kbgib@gmail.com.

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