DEER ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Casino workers from Hard Rock and Beau Rivage joined forces Thursday to help clean-up Deer Island. For the second straight year, the casino resorts partnered with Mississippi Power Company for the Earth Day project.
Dozens of volunteers headed for the island early in the morning, armed with trash bags and determination.
Choppy waters greeted volunteers on the short boat ride to Deer Island. Once the "Clean Team" arrived, they began coming the sandy shores and picking their way through tall marsh grass.
Rick Hatt discovered piles of boards.
"A lot of wood. A lot of aluminum. Beer cans. Cups. Tarps, mostly on the beach or in the water and hard to get out. Tires," said Hatt, when asked about his find.
Cloud cover and a welcome breeze kept the humidity bearable, as volunteers endured biting deer flies and scrapes from palmettos.
A common purpose kept their spirits up.
"One of Hard Rock's mottos is 'save the planet.' And we are always doing Hard Rock initiatives to get out in the community. And this is just a wonderful idea to get out and pick up the trash. We did it last year and had so much fun. And it's something we want to continue for years to come," said the Hard Rock's Fallon Ramage.
The casino workers who volunteered are proud of the clean-up project because many of them enjoy boating and fishing around Deer Island. Plus, they say the partnership makes sense because Deer Island is basically in their backyard. You can see the island from both casino resorts.
"We are constantly looking out here, enjoying it. And so we definitely want to keep it clean," said Ramage.
Vickie McKnight enjoyed last year's inaugural clean-up and happily signed up again.
"Wanted to get out and clean up the island 'cause I come out here and fish a lot. So, I wanted to come and clean and do the island and make it prettier," she said, while picking up pieces of Styrofoam.
Hard Rock employee, Chad Badeaux, said the island is a beautiful spot worth preserving.
"The island is important to all of us. So, I think it's a good idea to get out here and clean it up," he said.
Along with the expected cups, cans and bottles, crews removed a refrigerator and old tires from Deer Island.
The Deer Island Clean-Up helps kick off Mississippi Power Company's Renew Our Rivers program this year. The utility company will be hosting several other waterway clean-up projects in the coming weeks.