Volunteers remove lots of litter from Deer Island on Earth Day

DEER ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Deer Island is a lot cleaner, thanks to the efforts of more than 150 volunteers. They spent the day Tuesday, picking-up litter on the nearby island. It was part of the kickoff for Mississippi Power Company's annual "Renew Our Rivers" program.

Five coast casinos supplied the army of volunteers. And there was no shortage of Deer Island litter for the crews armed with trash bags.

"Got a pretty good bag going here," said one volunteer, as he slowly made his way through the marsh grass, eyes open for litter.

"A lot of cigarette butts. Almost my whole bag is cigarette butts. Straws from kids' juice boxes, and tops off drinks," said Teresa Ballingham, when asked about her finds.

"I just wish people wouldn't throw their trash on everything," she said.

This clean-up marks the start of Mississippi Power's ninth annual "Renew Our Rivers" campaign, an ongoing effort that's removed countless tons of trash from South Mississippi waterways.

"Just plastic. Cups. Lots of plastic bottles," said Bob Smith, "Guess it's kind of always been like this. So it's good that groups like this come out and clean it up every once in awhile."

This marks year three that Hard Rock's Sandy Bozeman has participated.

"It's nice to give back to the community. Gets us out of the normal work day for awhile. And I like to do things around the community," said Bozeman.

A brother-sister team were among the youngest volunteers. Stella and Buddy Bass were not at all impressed by all the litter.

"They shouldn't litter anymore. 'Cause it's a lot," said nine year old Stella.

"Trash," said her ten year old brother, "Like beer bottles and plastic bags."

The bagged trash is loaded aboard boats to be transported back to the harbor.

Many of these volunteers enjoy recreational time on Deer Island.  It's close proximity to Biloxi makes it a popular summer hang out.

"Everybody comes to this island and it's a great island to camp and stuff. Nobody wants to see trash. And it's not good for our environment," said James Elrod, a volunteer from Margaritaville.

On this Earth Day, these volunteers did their part: Picking up after others and spreading an important reminder.

"We have a beautiful gulf coast.  We just all need to take care of it and keep it clean!" said Cindy Tillman.

This is the ninth year for Mississippi Power Company's "Renew Our Rivers" program. Since its inception, the ongoing clean-up has removed hundreds of tons of debris from 20 different waterways.

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