Clean Sweep


COMMUNITY EFFORT SPRUCES UP BEACH AREAS

BY CHELSEA JENSEN

WEST HAWAII TODAY

cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com

Miles of Kona coastline littered with everything from lawn chairs and aluminum cans to car parts and bedding got some much-needed community TLC on Saturday.

Scores of West Hawaii residents of all ages ascended upon the shoreline stretching from Wawaloli Beach in North Kona to Keei Beach in South Kona removing bag upon bag of opala, or rubbish, others have left behind.

Two of those volunteers were Kailua-Kona residents Jerry and Drenna Dean, who recently moved to Hawaii from Indianapolis. The two expressed some frustration with the amount of garbage they plucked from bushes lining Pawai Bay.

"It's scary," Drenna said as husband Jerry worked his way into a large Christmas Berry bush to reach several bottles and cans. "It's sad really that people just toss stuff in the bushes and think it's OK."

The West Hawaii Beach Cleanup, now in its third year, is a joint effort by local nonprofits Big Island Wave Riders Against Drugs, the Betty Kanuha Foundation and Na Keiki Hee Nalu, said Jeff Fear, one of the project's coordinators.

Last year, less than a week before the March 11, 2011, tsunami surged ashore, more than 100 volunteers of all ages removed enough garbage to fill a 40-foot roll-off container, said Bryant Mockchew, Na Keiki Hee Nalu vice president.

Each year, volunteers spend a Saturday in March helping clean Hawaii's beaches with the hope of perpetuating the area's natural beauty for generations to come, Fear said. Another goal of the cleanup is to get keiki involved to realize the importance of caring for the land and ocean.

"Everything is for the kids and raising their awareness because we are only going to be around for so long," said Mockchew. "We need these kids to be good stewards of the land and ocean, and this is a way to get them involved."

Dana Rennoe and son, Kalani, 13, took part in the annual event for the first time on Saturday after seeing signs posted throughout the community. The Kailua-Kona residents meticulously sifted through leaf piles at Old Kona Airport Park plucking plastic forks, bottles and other random pieces of garbage.

"This is disappointing," Kalani said. "People can easily clean this up on their own, but they don't."

His mother, Dana, added, "This land is for everybody to enjoy. And, if people ruin it now, the future generations won't have it to enjoy."

Konawaena Elementary School student Ilihia Sonognini, 11, was without words as she stuffed handful after handful of garbage, including dozens of plastic bags, into a large trash bag.

"It's just unreal," she eventually said. "I can't even think of the words because this is such a mess."