Hurricanes Help the Hometown organizes beach cleanup service

At one site of Saturday's Hurricanes Help the Hometown, participants remove debris and pollution from Virigina Key Beach. Photo Courtesy Rick Lin
At one site of Saturday’s Hurricanes Help the Hometown, participants remove debris and pollution from Viriginia Key Beach. Photo Courtesy Rick Lin

Volunteers spread out across Virginia Key Beach on Saturday morning for the Butler Center’s Hurricanes Help the Hometown, one of the university’s biggest service events.

Students were welcomed with free breakfast, a T-shirt and a water bottle on Saturday morning on the Rock before leaving for the trip. After being greeted by the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC), the students were split up into nine projects. Each project was given an area to clean up when they arrived at the beach.

Guy Fortune, executive director of Virginia Key Beach, spoke to the students about the goal of the service before they began cleaning. Students were then paired up and given gloves and a garbage bag, and sent off to the beach to clean up.

“We’re working in natural areas around the island to restore its value,” Fortune said.

He also discussed the importance of preserving the beach’s history as it was a predominantly African-American beach during the civil rights movement.

“It’s good to give back to the community. It’s a nice, underappreciated beach that deserves more attention,” said freshman Alec Wasserman.

After about an hour and a half of service, participants ate lunch and discussed what they learned from the experience.

One of the site leaders, Sarah Betancourt, said she was surprised by the amount of garbage that was found washed ashore, but was pleased to know that she and the other volunteers were helping clean it up.