Alderwood Students Organize Beach Cleanup Event

Three students at Alderwood Elementary School won a grant from the Whatcom Volunteer Center to coordinate and host a beach cleanup at Squalicum and Locust Beaches. More than 30 people showed up to help at the event on May 7 and more than 200 pounds of garbage was collected.

Whatcom Volunteer Center project manager, Mika Zeta, said these are the youngest applicants ever to win a Dream, Design, Create grant.

Fifth graders Melissa Morales, Moises Solis Cruz and Natalía Hernández wrote the grant after learning about pollution in school.  Lessons about pollution were reinforced through a guided literacy program at Sterling Meadows.

“When they learned how harmful trash in our oceans and streams can be to sea life, especially salmon, they wanted to take action to teach others about it,” said Alderwood Principal Janae Hodge.

In addition to the beach cleanup, the students prepared a presentation for Alderwood Elementary students about pollution and actions they can take to not litter and how they can help with cleanup efforts. The students encouraged participation in the cleanup event at their school and throughout the community by putting up posters.

The students applied for a grant for what the students named, project HOPE (Heart of the Ocean Plastic Elimination). HOPE was awarded $1,131 to purchase a variety of supplies including biodegradable gloves, recyclable garbage bags, trash sticks, sunscreen and more. The grant also covered the cost of lunch and a building rental for the group to meet prior to the cleanup event.

Sterling Meadows Resident Services Coordinator, Lindsey Karas, said the students showed a lot of initiative and drive during the project. The students led the project and showed responsibility by meeting deadlines and following through with tasks. Karas said the group collected more than 200 pounds of garbage during the cleanup event.

“They were thoughtful with every part of the project, down to getting clipboards and pencils made of recycled materials that had no plastic parts,” said Karas.  “They saw a need and actually made a commitment to educate others and do something to help solve the problem.”

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