ASTORIA, Ore. - Nearly twenty Warner Pacific students participated in the SOLV Spring Oregon Beach Clean Up event last weekend. Part of the REL320 Spirituality, Character, and Service class involves three hours of volunteer work for a service organization. Professor Joe Miller led two teams of students to volunteer for this great work.
The following is an article from The Daily Astorian about the event, and WP student Duane Miller and his wife Regina were photographed and interviewed.
By Hugh McKenna - The Daily Astorian
April 3, 2012
It was raining hard when Larry and Laura Wilkins left their Portland-area home Saturday morning for the North Coast. The couple wasn't sure what kind of weather conditions they'd find as they joined SOLVE's Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup at the Peter Iredale station at Fort Stevens State Park.
Despite a biting cold wind, the rain held off, although the couple observed fewer beach cleaners than previous years. The couple had returned to Oregon after years spent in Canada and Nevada for Larry Wilkins' career.
"We're happy to be back in Oregon," said Larry Wilkins, one of many Recology (a waste recycling company) employees taking part in the cleanup. If they were going to live here, they were going to pitch in.
The Wilkins' signed in at the Peter Iredale registration point with Verleen Wilson and Susan Boyce. The two Hillsboro women have been participating in the cleanup twice a year for at least a dozen years. They started when they had kids in the Boy Scouts and have continued long past the scouting years.
The organization that began as SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) has a new logo that the organization says more accurately reflects its work – "the active participation of volunteers choosing to SOLVE."
Overall, SOLVE reported 3,758 volunteers picked up 58,883 pounds of trash on the entire Oregon Coast that had accumulated over the winter. Those numbers reflect a 10 percent increase in both participation and garbage collected. It diverted at least 1,565 pounds of trash from the landfill by recycling.
Following the one-year anniversary of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, many Oregonians searched the beach for any sign of possible debris from Japan. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the bulk of debris from the tsunami could potentially reach the West Coast in 2013.
The most unusual items found on the beach this year included enough toys to keep a toddler very busy: a plastic dinosaur, a teddy bear from Illinois, a box of paperback books and an entire big wheel riding toy. Volunteers reported finding two portable toilets, including one that was ripped out of a Lincoln City resident's yard during the flooding in January. Volunteers also reported finding items from all over the world, including baby food and beverage bottles with Chinese and Japanese labels and a disc from Russia.
Michelle Sloan of Warrenton meticulously worked each spot, using metal kitchen tongs to pick up debris she dropped into a bright green bucket before moving on. Her husband took the day off work to watch their children so she could pick up trash on the beach. SOLVE encouraged volunteers to bring their own buckets and bags to reduce the amount of plastic bags used in the cleanup.
The gusting wind made it difficult to control the large SOLVE cleanup bags. Manish Gooneratne, another Recology employee, his wife, Brittany, and their children, Maya and Cole, kept good grips on their bags while they were hard at work picking up whatever debris they could find.
Regina and Duane Miller of Vancouver, Wash., were part of two teams from Warner Pacific College. Participating in the cleanup was satisfying the public-service requirement of his "Spirituality, Character and Service" class. Nearly 20 people from Warner Pacific took part in the event.
This is the 24th year of the twice-yearly beach cleanups. They started in Oregon in 1984 and the idea has spread across the country and around the world. Along with SOLVE, the cleanup is coordinated by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and garbage and recycling companies along the coast.
Pedro Billescas had a different outlook on the cleanup. He has a private enterprise called No More Butts that recycles cigarette butts. Discarded butts can make clothing, insulation and other products from the used filters. Steel can also be soaked in a solution made from the butts to rustproof the metal. He, his son Peter and a friend were busy collecting cigarette butts at Coffenbury Lake in Fort Stevens.