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Area Rotary Clubs on Saturday, Aug. 21, came together with students from San Clemente High School’s Interact and Avid Clubs, as well as South Orange County young professionals from the SOC Rotaract Club, for a beach day cleanup.

As part of the Rotary District 5320’s “Day of Service,” which coincides with the Rotary International’s latest Avenue of Focus—the environment—nearly 100 young volunteers and Rotarians gathered at the beach to participate in the cleanup, according to press release from the San Clemente Sunrise Rotary Club.

“In preparation for this project, I learned and understood how many small and simple changes we can make in our daily lives to help our environment and leave a better world for our kids and future generations,” Santa Ana Rotary Club President Sariah Devereaux said an emailed statement.

Nearly 100 volunteers and local Rotarians gathered in San Clemente on Saturday, Aug. 21, for a beach cleanup event. Photo: Courtesy of San Clemente Sunrise Rotary Club

Volunteers were assigned to specific areas of the beach on which to focus, stretching from Linda Lane Park to Lost Winds. The clubs were able to cover a lot of territory because of the volume of volunteers.

According to Sunrise Rotary, a total of 4,547 items were picked up, with 1,368 pieces of Styrofoam comprising the bulk of the trash. More than 730 pieces of plastic were removed from the beach, along with 625 pieces of paper and 722 cigarette butts.

“Plastics and other waste flow to the beach and ocean through the sewer system. Trash from beachgoers also add to the issue,” the press release explained of the importance of beach cleanups.

“Once the items are discarded, the birds and marine life are attracted to them as food, which they cannot digest,” the release continued. “The plastics and other materials accumulate in the sealife’s stomach and they eventually starve.”

Several students and volunteers stayed afterward to enjoy fellowship at the Fisherman’s Galley, where they got to also eat pizza donated by Sunrise Rotary and Rotary OC Digital.

In 2020-2021, Sunrise Rotary received an Environmental and Sustainability Grant from the city of San Clemente. That grant, the club said, will fund beach cleanup projects that San Clemente High School Interact Club students will lead.

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