KAILUA-KONA — Kirstin Kahaloa had been noticing a disturbing amount of trash along the highway from Puuloa to the Daifukuji Mission in her travels to South Kona as Blue Zones Project West Hawaii Community Engagement Lead, so she decided to do something about it.
“This corridor is one of the dirtiest I have seen, so I thought, why don’t we steward this,”Kahaloa said Monday.
Partnering with the Lions Club of Kona and community members, Blue Zones and Kahaloa got the word out that Monday morning would be the Honalo cleanup.
Over two dozen volunteers took to the street donning vests, trash bags and pickers. Along the way, they picked up cigarette butts, bottles, cans and an array of garbage.
In the middle of the clean up zone sits Higashihara Park.
The park has been a special project for the Kona Lions Club for many years, performing regular renovations and upkeep maintenance.
“Of all Lions Club projects over the years, we are most proud of this one. We built this park,” said club President Jeff Knowles. “So when Blue Zones asked us to help, we brought the labor.”
A mound of trash was scooped up alongside the park’s playground parking area, and in an adjacent brush area north of the lot, an abandoned homeless camp was found, complete with a mattress, mounds of bottles and cans, clothes and a West Hawaii Today newspaper rack from 2012 that were hauled up the ravine to a waiting pick-up truck.
All in all, five heaping truck loads of trash went to the transfer station.
Dominic DeBernardi was a visitor from Oregon heard about the clean up effort and decided to pitch in.
“I just had to do it,” he said. “Everyone comes and just takes, you have to do something for the island, too.”