Volunteers collect trash, debris on local beaches after July 4 holiday

·2 min read

Volunteers packed the beaches Tuesday morning for the annual 5th of July Beach Clean Up.

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This comes after thousands celebrated Independence Day from the sand, watching fireworks shoot into the sky.

Large amounts of trash were left behind, which is something environmental activists and those passionate about their community say they won’t stand for.

Action News Jax spoke with Carol Bailey-White and Elizabeth Filippelli, who had a bucket full of litter. They’re with the Duval Audubon Society.

“We are trying to rid the beach of plastic items and other items that birds can get entangled in,” Bailey-White said.

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Birds and sea life are put in danger from litter and debris.

“We’re collecting cigarette butts, a little bit of firecracker debris and also a lot of plastic,” Filippelli said. “We’re really excited to be here cleaning up after a wonderful Fourth of July we heard.”

July 5 is often known as the “dirtiest beach day of the year.”

For over 30 years, the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol has partnered with the City of Jacksonville’s “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” program to clean up the beaches after the Independence Day celebrations.

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Workers from Florida Beach Rakers worked through the night bagging and collecting trash that filled the beach and went into the ocean.

Once 7 a.m hit, volunteers with the annual cleanup event picked up all types of items like beer bottles, diapers and chip bags.

Ryan Heaton volunteered Tuesday with JEA.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to come out here and build team camaraderie to help clean up the beach that we all get to come and enjoy every day,” Heaton said.

“The beach is so pretty,” volunteer Elina Adhikari said. “I think we should keep it clean so everyone can come and enjoy it.”

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Then, something incredibly special happened.

Volunteers got down onto the sand to clean up the beaches, but Dan Durbec also got down on one knee for his now-fiancé Deb.

“This is our two-year anniversary of dating and meeting,” Deb Fewell said. “I wasn’t expecting this today. I’m so excited.”

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Durbec with “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” and Fewell with “Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol” met at the cleanup event two years ago.

Action News Jax spoke with the happily engaged couple moments after the ring was pulled out.

“That was very special,” Durbec said. “The best thing I’ve ever found on the beach.”

PHOTOS: Couple gets engaged during Jacksonville Beach cleanup

Volunteers got down onto the sand to clean up the beaches after the Fourth of July, but Dan Durbec also got down on one knee for his now-fiancé Deb Fewell.
Volunteers got down onto the sand to clean up the beaches after the Fourth of July, but Dan Durbec also got down on one knee for his now-fiancé Deb Fewell.
Durbec with “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” and Fewell with “Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol” met at the cleanup event two years ago.
Durbec with “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” and Fewell with “Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol” met at the cleanup event two years ago.
“This is our two-year anniversary of dating and meeting,” Deb Fewell said. “I wasn’t expecting this today. I’m so excited.”
“This is our two-year anniversary of dating and meeting,” Deb Fewell said. “I wasn’t expecting this today. I’m so excited.”
Action News Jax spoke with the happily engaged couple moments after the ring was pulled out.
Action News Jax spoke with the happily engaged couple moments after the ring was pulled out.
“That was very special,” Durbec said. “The best thing I’ve ever found on the beach.”
“That was very special,” Durbec said. “The best thing I’ve ever found on the beach.”

Here are the stats for the cleanup:

  • 229 volunteers = 458 volunteer hours

  • 229 bags, or 4,500 to 5,000 pounds of trash, collected

  • Hourly volunteer value is $13,000

  • Cost avoidance is $5,500

  • Total savings to taxpayer (what event saved each taxpayer): $18,600

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