Locals clean beach before Spring Break

Community residents line up to help pick up trash Feb. 23. Aaron Baxter, president of Friends of Padre, hopes more college students will help with the next cleanup.

More than 20 Del Mar College students and faculty members spent a recent Saturday morning prowling the sands of the Padre Island National Seashore for trash and debris. 

The group was joined by 1,300 other members of the Coastal Bend for the 24th annual Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup, hosted annually by the nonprofit group Friends of Padre. Del Mar College was represented at the Feb. 23 event by three student organizations, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Green Team and the Del Mar Democrats.

“This is my first beach cleanup, and I would totally do it again,” said student Amanda Cortez of the Green Team.

Volunteers were able to collect over 75 tons of trash along 24 miles of beach in a single day.

“We couldn’t do it with it our sponsors or volunteers,” said Aaron Baxter, president of Friends of Padre, adding this was the first year for the event since its founder, Sandifer, died last year. 

Baxter said he wished more college students would come out to the beach cleanup.

“It’s always that 18-23 demographic that is under-represented,” he said. “And we always need more 4×4’s”. 

Baxter’s wife, Dree Baxter, said turnout has consistently grown in her 15 years with the event.

“It’s all about the education and conservation; it’s passing it down to the next generation,” she said.

Professors Jim and Teresa Klein were in attendance as advisers for the DMC Democrats and the Green Team.

“This is a good event to participate in because we are always needing more help picking up trash, and actually picking up trash makes you more aware of how much we use and discard on a daily basis” said Jim Klein, professor of history. 

“It’s the order of priority: reduce, reuse, recycle,” added Teresa Klein, professor of psychology.

Phi Theta Kappa member Kassie Gunter said she was excited to see others from Del Mar at the event.

“I love that the Green Team is here, I feel that it’s great collaboration. The more the merrier,” Gunter said.

 Erika Locke, a Del Mar geology professor and Padre Island resident, said this was her first year attending the cleanup.

“To have this many people come out here to clean up this beautiful natural resource we have is great as this is the longest undeveloped beach in North America,” Locke said.

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