JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – After thousands of people celebrated the Fourth of July at Jacksonville Beach on Monday, a group of volunteers helped clean up Tuesday -- part of an annual tradition.
Every year the group gathers thousands of pounds of trash after the celebration to keep the beaches beautiful.
The volunteers have been at it for more than two decades.
"We want to make sure we get as much trash up off the beach as we can,” Jacksonville Beach resident Charlie Wurzer said.
Volunteers were given bags, gloves and tools to help pick up the trash.
Wurzer said it was his first year volunteering and he was surprised by how much was left behind.
"It's unfortunate, but it's awfully good to see a lot of people volunteering to come pick it all up,” he said.
Group leaders said at least 30 people signed up Tuesday, but they believe the number of volunters was closer to 50.
From leftover fireworks to aluminum cans, and even a broken tent, a lot was left behind, which is not good news for the environment or Jacksonville's wildlife, experts said.
"It doesn't benefit when this stuff goes into the ocean,” said Dan Durbec with Keep Jacksonville Beautiful. “It just, it affects the marine life, and that's what we're concerned about."
Every year, millions of sea turtles are killed because they mistake trash for food. They're known to nest at our local beaches.
But the trouble doesn't end there.
"You always see the pictures on the news of the dolphins with plastic on their heads or the birds with plastic in their bellies,” Wurzer said. “So we want to prevent that as much as we can."
With about 50 known volunteers and an estimated 20 pounds per bag collected, the amount of pounds of trash was in the thousands.
The payout is making a difference and leaving a lasting impression, Durbec said.
"I think little by little, we're reaching the younger generation,” Durbec said. “To share the importance of not leaving stuff on the beach, leaving it behind. I think it's working, it just takes a little time."
To get involved with Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, call 630-CITY.