Volunteers cleanup tons of trash on Deer Island

Deer Island was packed with activity today as many people launched a mission to clean up the barrier island in our gulf. News 25’s Gina Tomlinson joined the volunteers today for the eighth annual Deer Island Cleanup, part of Mississippi’s ongoing Renew our Rivers program.
It is spring break for Coast students, but instead of playing in the water ten-year-old Caiden Chandler of Ocean Springs was doing some spring cleaning at Deer Island. “We want to help the environment because it makes it more clean and it just helps the community.”
He was one of more than one hundred volunteers armed with trash bags and gloves, scouring the island’s 400 acres, removing trash and other debris. Volunteer Donyelle Neiper said, “It’s always nice to pick up the water. People come out here and swim and camp and enjoy themselves.”
A noble effort and hands on lesson for even the youngest of volunteers when it comes to taking care of the environment. One volunteer said, “So it’s clean and the animals don’t get hurt.”
Another volunteer said, “because I don’t want the fish to die.”
Surrounded by nature, some volunteers still stumbled across some eyesores. Volunteer Caelleigh Downerde-Gutierrez said, “We found shoes. We found water bottles, crates, trash, a lot of broken up coolers.”
Every bit counts. “We picked up probably over 11 tons of trash here over the last seven years.”
Volunteers tell News 25 it’s not only important to keep the environment clean right now, but it’s critical for generations to come. “These are our barrier islands. These are what protect us from hurricanes. We want to make sure that when we’re out here having fun we keep these islands clean for the animals and keep the sea healthy and everything growing well to keep the islands together so we’re still protected from the natural disasters,” said Downerde-Gutierrez.
In turn, these volunteers protect the island, leaving the little ones with a valuable lesson for years to come. “Leave it better to the next generation than you found it.”

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