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Volunteers help keep Kona beaches clean

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai‘i — West Hawai‘i beaches are much cleaner today thanks to an army of volunteers who came out for the 28th Wave Riders Against Drugs (WRAD) Community Beach Cleanup organized yearly by Jeff Fear, Jerome Kanuha and their extended ohana.

More than 250 volunteers from keiki to kupuna armed with buckets, gloves and trash bags gave up their Saturday morning to pick up trash at 13 beaches in Kona from Kua Bay to Kahaluu. The day started with registration at Old Kona Airport Park where volunteers picked up their T-shirts and supplies before heading out to scour for trash.

The annual event also attracted political leaders who were amazed at the community response to malama the ‘aina.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said she came to the cleanup at the urging of Sen. Dru Kanuha and Rep. Kirstin Kahaloa, who wanted her to see how the Kona community comes together to take care of the beaches.

“I’m just so amazed at the number of people that came. Mr. Kanuha and Jeff have been the champions of this community and we can’t do it without community leaders like them,” she said.

“We are so grateful for the great folks who who take care of our ‘aina, take care of our community. The community coming together to do beach cleanup is really about the community taking care of the ‘aina and we want to make sure the ‘aina is clean for our keiki to kupuna.”

“It’s all for the keiki,” said WRAD founder Fear, who started the community effort after 10 years of hosting youth surf contests.

He said he started the annual cleanup because of the sheer amount trash, cigarette butts and needles he would find when he was at the beach with his family.

“Just look on the ground. There’s so much trash. It’s everywhere — cigarette butts, plastics, microplastics. There’s no excuses. We are here to take care of the ‘aina and take care of our island. We only have one island. Everybody wants to come here, so we have to take care of what we got,” he said.

Fear noted some of the volunteers at the cleanup were just keiki when he first started the event.

“And now they are all grown up bringing their kids,” he said.

Kanuha said it is our kuleana to take care of the ‘aina.

“We are all ‘ohana over here. That’s what makes us strong. We care about our ‘aina, mauka to makai. The keiki are the ones who are going to be our leaders down the road. We do it for them,” he said.

Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina commended community members for coming out to clean the beaches.

“It’s so good to see everyone out here. This is the biggest beach on the Kona side and unfortunately not everybody takes care of it, but the community cares as you can see by how many people came out for this,” he said.

Mayor Mitch Roth said the county is trying to tackle the backlog of projects needed to be done at the park.

“We have been working on cleaning up our parks and putting money in their repair. We are working with SHPD to make sure we can retrofit this park. We want to take down the old terminal and put up the bathrooms. We are about 90 percent through with that process so hopefully in the next year or so we can start doing some renovation over here,” he said.

The mayor praised the volunteers who take ownership of the beaches.

“We live in such a beautiful place and it’s really a shame that people come and leave their opala and mess up this place. But on the other side of that, seeing all these people come out, who really care about our land, really care about this place, is an amazing feeling,” he said.

“I feel fortunate to be a part of it. For those who haven’t done it, you don’t have to wait until next year to come out and clean the beaches. You can come any time.”

At noon the volunteers returned to the park with their bags of trash. Games for the kids included a variety of prizes, and surfboards and boogie boards were raffled off.

In addition to the Kona beaches, more than 50 volunteers cleaned up the beaches at Miloli‘i and Kamilo. Last week, about 125 volunteers tackled Puako Bay.
Source: The Garden Island

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