ROCK ISLAND -- Tires, appliances, wire fencing, bicycles, televisions, mattresses. These are just a few of the items that became 33,209 pounds of garbage and debris that was pulled from area waterways and illegal dump sites Saturday during the 11th annual Xstream Cleanup.|
At 40 spots throughout Rock Island, Moline, Silvis, Milan, Davenport, Bettendorf, Buffalo, LeClaire, McCausland and Lost Grove Lake, 1,060 volunteers worked light and heavy duty shifts, picking up litter from wrappers and bottles to tires and furniture and clearing invasive species from natural areas.
At Sunset Marina and Park in Rock Island, 175 people picked up trash and cleared debris from wooded areas and waterways, said site coordinator Wendy Smith, of Davenport, who also is on the board of directors of Keep Rock Island Beautiful, one of the event's sponsors.
Launched by Chad Pregracke and Living Lands & Waters in 2004, Xstream Cleanup is a Quad-Cities-wide cleanup of creeks, drainage ways and sections of the Mississippi and Rock rivers, according to its website at xstreamcleanup.org.
"The event really makes a difference in the community," Ms. Smith said. "People come back (to help) year after year."
Cub Scout packs, the Rock Island High School Environmental Action Club, several families and groups with other businesses and organizations filled Sunset, Ms. Smith said, adding that the groups "like to see a lot of kids come out."
It helps people realize "how much people throw away, and a lot of this stuff will never decompose," she said.
"Every day, (people) can pick up a few items in their communities, and it makes a big difference in the ecosystem."
Ms. Smith said the cleanup could never be pulled off without the collaboration of organizations on both sides of the river.
"No one organization can do it," she said. "Volunteers are key to the success of the event."
And there were plenty of volunteers at Sunset. Some took breaks at picnic tables while others emerged from the trees with bulging white trash bags. Volunteers walked along the bike path, along the beach and throughout the park, with bright orange and silver trash-grabbers and giant trash bags, snapping up trash one piece at a time.
Some of the removal was easier than others. Hailey Kress, 13, of Rock Island, said there were plenty of items, such as jugs filled with mud, to dig out of the ground near the waterways.
She was volunteering with her mother, Crystal, who signed up through her job, her sister and her friends.
"I think it's a nice thing to do to help the environment," she said. "It makes me feel really good to know that I'm helping."
Hailey encouraged other people to join the cause next year. "Even a couple more people would help make a difference," she said.
Her friend Kieli Seams, 13, of Rock Island, said volunteering with friends helped make her experience better Saturday.
"It was fun," she said.
The cleanup also proved to be a great activity for families. Sharon Bowker, of Rock Island, relaxed at a picnic table after a morning of work with her boys and her husband, Mark.
"We just like the park," she said. Bringing the three boys along made for "a neat service project for them to give back to the community," she said.
Plus, "it's a good family thing."
The boys, who were exhausted, and one, 9-year-old Jason, who was covered in mud, quietly agreed by nodding their heads.
"I always get annoyed if I'm out on the river and I see garbage," said Adam, 14, who added that the family found plenty of clothing during the cleanup.
"I don't know how you could lose so many shirts," he said.
Their parents said it took a little work to get the boys up and going Saturday morning, but once they arrived at Sunset, everyone began to have a good time, and they enjoyed the chance to give back.
It's important for kids and teens to get involved in projects such as Xstream Cleanup "so the next generation will help more when they get older," Adam said.
The other boys silently agreed again.
Looking at his shoes and socks, which were heavily caked with mud and sand, Jason's head sunk forward.
"I need to take a shower," he said.
For more information about the event, including information about how to get involved in the future, visit xstreamcleanup.org.
Moline, IL Details
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