Local clubs join to clean up local beach

By the 10:30 am, the King High School surf club had already collected 10 full bags of litter with more to come.

Del Mar’s Industrial Process Technology Association (IPTA) joined up with a few other groups to clean up the beach out at Padre Balli Park. The Oct. 6 beach cleanup, which was originally scheduled for two weeks prior but was postponed due to rain, was hosted by LyondellBasell Adopt-A-Beach.

Adopt-A-Beach recruits groups, such as Del Mar’s IPTA, the Kiwanis and local high school clubs, as well as individual volunteers to help clean up the beaches not only to protect sea life, but also to help beautify the Texas coast.

“The IPTA believe in helping your community out and service projects,” club member Jessica Russell said.

Adopt-A-Beach representative Jim Needham spent the morning handing out garbage bags and assigning individuals and groups to certain sections of the beach.

“The beach is broken into sections,” Needham said. “Mustang Island State Park has its own cleanup and Padre Island National Sea Shore has its own as well. We take the in between.”

Needham said he has been organizing the cleanup in this area every fall and spring for 20 years.

“We usually get 200 to 350 volunteers at this site,” he said. “The beach used to be filthy. Now I have to search for trash.”

Plastic, such as water bottles and green bleach bottles from shrimp ships, makes up most of the litter on the beaches.

“Sea turtles see the plastics and think they’re jellyfish,” Needham said. “You’ll see lots of bottles that have triangle-shaped bites out of them. Those are from the turtles.”

Gretchen Chaney, King High School surf club sponsor and Del Mar graduate, has been bringing out students for the past 18 years to help with this particular beach cleanup.

“It gets the kids community service hours for school events or court orders,” Chaney said. “It also grows stewards of this generation and creates awareness.”

Chaney said her students are part of a research project.

“Plastics are a huge problem,” she said. “So, the students collect the litter and see how many pounds of it are plastics, straws, or other things like that. It helps them see that they are part of a bigger picture.”

Information on future beach cleanups can be found on the Texas General Land Office’s website for online registration, or you can register in person the day of the cleanup.

“Anyone can join,” Russell said. “It’s good for our community and it’s good for the beach.”

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