Volunteers Say Beautifying the Coast Makes Them Feel Better

People across South Mississippi did their part to keep America beautiful. Every year, the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup helps rid our beaches, bayous, and islands of tons of trash and debris. In the wake of this week's terrorist attacks, some people say picking up trash is somewhat therapeutic because it helps take their minds off the tragedy.

Some servicemen from the Seabee Base in Gulfport say picking up litter is a small way that they can help make America a better place to live. Although they were saddened by the tragic attacks on Washington and New York, they say they never considered bowing out of the Coastal Cleanup.

Military officials say they've been encouraging personnel to step away from the constant television news coverage and spend time getting active. The servicemen say the cleanup is a way to do that while being productive.

"It's a chance to get off base, and it's nice to help out in the community," Airman Bryan Woodruff said. "I'll be here a few months, so it's just nice to get out and help the community."

"I figured I could give some to the community here. While I'm here we might as well make the best of what we've got," Airman Jesse Butikofer said.

Cleanup organizers say they weren't sure many people would show up Saturday morning, but to their delight, hundreds of volunteers walked along the beach with.trash bags in hand.

"I think a lot of people are taking an opportunity to come together and just show the kind of grit and determination and spirit that all of us in this country are known for," Department of Resources Public Relations Director Lauren Thompson said.

Volunteers collected about 33 tons of trash from sites in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties. However, the barrier islands cleanup was canceled because of Tropical Storm Gabrielle. DMR officials said they had hundreds fewer volunteers this year mostly because Keesler Air Force Base did not participate.

By Danielle Thomas