Big Splash Week concludes with beach clean up

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Big Splash Week concludes with beach clean up

GVL \ Caleb Worpel

GVL \ Caleb Worpel

GVL \ Caleb Worpel

GVL \ Caleb Worpel

Rachel Matuszewski, Staff Reporter

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On Saturday, Sept. 21, Grand Valley State University’s Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) invited GVSU students to help clean up the Grand Haven Public Beach in partnership with the Alliances of the Great Lakes and the Making Waves Initiative.

For an event that was once capped at 175 volunteers, the capacity was moved to 200 students. In collaboration with the Making Waves Initiative, after cleaning the beach from 10 a.m. to noon, students had options to enjoy the beach, hike Rosie Mound, take a boat tour with DJ Angus or receive a Coast Guard tour.

“The Making Waves Initiative is something that’s new to this year,” said graduate assistant for civic and community engagement Tatiana Parsons. “It’s a university-wide initiative that’s based around clean water, water in general, water accessibility, really just anything regarding water.”

Not only did GVSU students clean the Grand Haven shores, but with the Alliances of the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, students cleaned up surrounding beaches in their area at the same time. The trash was weighed with litter monitoring and the trash will be counted nationally.

“After seeing all the trash we picked up last year, I decided to always bring a bag and pick up trash whenever I went to the beach this past summer,” sophomore site leader Lilly Radke said. “It is really the little things that can make a difference. Being a site leader for the GVSU cleanup definitely allows me to live out my passion I have for keeping our waterways clean and better yet — I get to show people that empathy in hopes that they might find it, too.”

Last year’s numbers in Grand Haven include 88.6 pounds of trash, 2,888 plastic pieces and 1,442 cigarette butts.

“Last year 36,000 pounds of litter was picked up, and 85 percent of that was plastic,” Parsons said. “We are hoping for less trash this year and we are hoping for more sustainable practices. (The litter monitoring) is also promoting more sustainable recycling practices. If there are animals entangled in debris, (students) make sure they take care of (them) too.”

The clean up not only impacts Michigan, but states with access to the Great Lakes including Ill., Ind., Minn. and more.

“This is important for Grand Valley students because (we value) service and service learning,” Parsons said. “One thing we strive to do is promote the growth of active citizens in our community so just helping students get connected to resources and help them connect (with) different non-profits in terms of reciprocity, so they’re not just coming in, helping out and leaving. We’re making sure (it is) a mutually beneficial experience.”

The CSLC has a variety of service opportunities this year. Their next volunteering event is Make a Difference Day on Oct. 12, and is typically one of their largest. Students from Grand Rapids Community College are also invited, and the CSLC projects 70 students from Grand Rapids Community College to come participate. Cornerstone students were also invited to the Nonprofit and Volunteer Internship Fair Sept. 12.

“We’re trying to build better relationships,” Parsons said. “We do have good relationships with our community and our community partners, we’re also trying to build really good service relationships with other schools in the area.”

For the fall semester, the Days of Community Action invites LIB 100 and 201 students to hear about community partners. On Sept. 27 there will be a GVSU sustainable agriculture project, students can get involved with the kids food basket Oct. 19, and can learn about the refugee education center Nov. 2.

For more service opportunities or additional resources for creating personal service projects, stop by the CSLC connected to the Office of Student Life.