GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Our coastal waterways are cleaner thanks to thousands of volunteers who came out Saturday to pick up trash for the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup. This year, the 22nd annual event focused on cleaning inland waterways, instead of beaches and barrier islands.
A group of Girl Scouts, Brownies from St. John's Church, were among those cleaning up at Kremer Landing and James Hill Park in Gulfport.
"If people can help clean up the environment and stop littering, the world could be a better place and it won't die," Margaret O'Conor said.
Madeline Fields found all kinds of garbage, including, "A cigarette, a few pieces of glass and some paper."
The second and third graders from troop 6346 were eager to find all the items that don't belong on the ground. One of their main concerns was that trash could reach our bodies of water, and possibly harm marine life.
"Half of the earth is water, and more life is in the water than earth," Clair Wingfield explained. "It can't be dirty or they won't live."
Because of the oil spill, many people chose to utilize Back Bay instead of the Sound this summer. So, State Coordinator Lauren Thompson directed this year's efforts to inland waterways.
"A lot of those areas did get a little more trashed up, so we wanted to focus on those," Thompson said. "And everyone knows trash travels, so what ends up here can wash into the Sound. So we wanted to take the chance to educate people about that and clean up those areas."
Among the thousands of volunteers helping pick up trashed bicycles and tires were students from Hinds County Community College. Student Jamar McQuarters said if getting his hands dirty helps the community out, it's well worth it.
"Well, I'm glad just to be helping clean period," McQuarters said. "We do it a lot at Hinds and to actually come somewhere else, it's pretty wonderful."
Volunteers said they are happy to be picking up what others left behind and hope one day everyone sees the importance of a clean earth.
"So the world won't die and people stop littering and see how beautiful the world can be," Fields said.
During this year's Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, more than 1,787 volunteers picked up 1,375 bags of trash, which included 66 bags of recyclables, along 113 miles of Coastal waterways in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. In addition, 115 volunteers cleaned five miles along Boley Creek in Pearl River County.