KAILUA-KONA — Hundreds of volunteers headed to Old Kona Airport Park Saturday morning, and every person had one goal in mind: to make the beaches they love clean again.
“We live in the middle of the ocean. If we don’t take care of it, then what’s going to happen?” Jerome Kanuha said. “It belongs to all of us, and everybody here has a part of it, whether you come from a different state or a different country. With the island, we’re in the middle of the ocean, so how do we take care of it?”
Kanuha, of the Betty Kanuha Foundation, the Big Island Wave Riders Against Drugs and others are among the organizers and sponsors of the 2018 Big Island Community Beach Clean Up, which was held Saturday for the 25th year. Volunteers gathered at Old Kona Airport Park in the morning to take much-needed supplies, such as garbage bags and trash pickers, before dispersing to clean different beaches along the west side of the island.
Laurie Mansell and her husband, Gordon, are from Alberta, Canada, and are frequent visitors to the island. Saturday was their second time participating in the annual beach cleanup. They spent their morning picking up trash near Kona Dog Beach, despite being on vacation.
“We appreciate with all our hearts the island, the water and the people, and we need to give back,” Mansell said.
Both Mansell and her husband said one of the reasons they keep coming back to the island is the water, and how much access to the water there is compared to other places they have visited.
“There’s great importance to keeping our oceans free from harm, so we just like to do our part.” Mansell said.
At Old Kona Airport, Nicolle Eytcheson was volunteering with the children in her youth group at the St. Michael’s Church and her family, who recently moved to the island from Minnesota. Eytcheson said there were about 40 children from the program there to help out.
“This island is beautiful,” Eytcheson said. “We’ve lived here a short time, and we just want to make sure we give back to the island.”
Ron Peppler and his wife, Tomi, walked down Kohanaiki Beach on Saturday with their grandchildren, Kama and Shayne, to help clean up a strip of land that is special to him and his family.
“This is the beach we come to, usually every weekend, because the boys like to surf here; this is their favorite spot,” Peppler said. “We asked them where they wanted to go and clean up, and they said Kohanaiki.”
“It’s just a good thing to teach the boys,” Peppler said. “They come and pick up some rubbish, and then they can go surf. And they enjoy it.”
Peppler and his family picked up about two bags of trash, but Peppler said the amount of they trash collected Saturday was much less than the amount the previous year.
“I think people are more conscious now, and most of the people that come here and use this beach kind of clean up when they are here on the weekends, and pick up a little extra when they go,” Peppler said. “I know we do.”