Cleaning up neighborhood beaches is an ongoing effort, and it takes a community to do it.
And it has to happen more than once.
Every third Saturday of the month for the last 20 years, Justin Rudd has met volunteers at the Granada Launch Ramp to do just that with the 30-minute Beach Cleanup. His partner, Ralph Millero, has joined him during every cleanup for the past 16 years.
"He’s probably the most consistent volunteer," Rudd said about his partner. "He transports all the supplies in his SUV and picks up Corner Bakery refreshments each month. I don’t have a car."
On Saturday, June 15, Rudd and his nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT) will be celebrating 20 years of beach cleanups with a birthday cake and door prizes.
And in 239 beach cleanups since the event's debut in 1999, Rudd said that he's only missed two events: one to attend a show filmed by HGTV with his late bulldog Rosie, and another during a trip overseas. But as far as he recalls, he's shown up for every other beach cleanup event — rain or shine.
"20 years ago I was teaching beach boot camps, and as I was running with students on the beach, I kept seeing all this trash just everywhere," he said. "I noticed that the city wasn't able to pick it up fast enough, so I asked my students to help clean the beach after class for a half hour."
Rudd said that he encouraged his students to bring other friends each month to help out, and month after month, the groups grew bigger. Today, around 300 people make it to the beach every month to pick up trash for a half hour.
He added that the community of helpers is what keeps the beach cleanup going. Duthie Power Services (2335 E. Cherry Industrial Circle) has brought refreshments every month for about 19 years, he said. Corner Bakery (6507 E Pacific Coast Hwy.) brings chocolate chip cookies and lemonade and a group called Spas for Paws supplies gift baskets as door prizes every month, and Dogfellaz supplies the ice to keep the refreshments cool.
And that's just to name a few of the longtime supporters of the cleanup.
"When we all work together, we're able to complete a lot," he said. "It would be a lot more work if I had to organize the refreshments or ice every week, so this is all accomplished with a lot of help from others."
All volunteers receive gloves and trash bags, but are encouraged to bring cans of nonperishable food items, like peanut butter and tuna, for donation for local food banks.
Additionally, this month area singers are invited to participate in a National Anthem singing contest. Entrants can sing solo or in a group. The winner will receive a one year $1,000 contract to sing the National Anthem at all CAT events through next June.
Students can earn one hour of volunteer credit if they show up early, at 9:30 a.m, to help set up, Rudd said. Anyone interested in confirming their volunteer hour should bring their school's official paperwork to sign.
The event itself will only run for a half hour. Rudd said that's because he's always wanted to keep it short and showcase that it's okay to spend a short amount of time picking up trash. When a collective of people keeps the neighborhood clean, a lot less time needs to go into cleanup events.
"My dream is that I won't have to do another beach cleanup because there is no more trash to be picked up, that people will start to pick things up before they make it to the beach," he said. "But until then, I'll show up every month, and I invite others to do the same."
The 20th anniversary of the Community Action Team beach cleanups is happening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, at 1 Granada Ave.
Beach parking lots do require payment at the parking kiosk, but volunteers receive free parking at 1 Granada Ave with the kiosk parking code JR0615. Plenty of street parking is available as well. For more information, go to justinrudd.com.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com.