Volunteers “Pick Up Brick”

Adam and Melissa Cruz were teaching their 2-year-old son, Logan, about keeping the Earth clean. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – The Cruz family, which included Adam, Melissa and their two-year-old son, Logan, were on Brick Beach 3 on a recent Saturday morning, scanning for litter and debris.

  The family, who live in the Herbertsville area of town, had registered for “Pick Up Brick,” the first in a series of community cleanups.

  The event was held in a partnership with the environmental group Clean Ocean Action for their annual Spring Beach Sweeps, which is the largest volunteer event in the state.

  “We care about the environment, and we always pick up trash wherever we go,” said Melissa. “We are trying to teach Logan about caring for and cleaning up the earth.”

  Beach captains were on hand at Brick Beach 1, Brick Beach 3 and Windward Beach Park, and they were responsible for handing out supplies and giving guidance to volunteers throughout the morning.

  Former Brick tax collector Joanne Lambusta (now retired) volunteered to be the beach captain at Brick Beach 1 where she was handing out gloves, garbage bags and masks that had been donated by Ocean Medical Center.

The Allen family (including Morgandy, 12, Riley, 10, and Emily, 7) collected trash from Brick Beach 1. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  She said some 82 people had registered for the event at Brick Beach 1, which included scouting troops, church groups and some hospital employees.

  “I do this every year because I’m concerned about the beach and the environment,” she said. “The beaches look cleaner than they ever have over the 10 or so years I’ve been doing this.”

  Lambusta said that in the past there was much more debris on the beach, ranging from tarps to cigarette butts. She credited the annual Brick Green Fair for raising environmental consciousness with the students.

  “People come to the Beach Sweep with their small children, so even they are more aware,” she said.

  Beach Sweeps took place at over 60 locations along the Jersey coast. Some 4,000 volunteers had registered for the event. They were asked to bring their own bucket, and to wear reusable work gloves and closed-toe, hard soled shoes.

  Girl Scout leader Meredith Silvestri of Troop 1735, who hold their meetings at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, brought four girls to the clean-up. They had picked up some wood debris, plastic wrappers, small pieces of plastic, cigarette butts and pieces of foam.

  “This is our first time at the Beach Sweep,” Silvestri said. “The beach looks pretty clean – there’s not a lot of trash,” she noted.

  Tina Kozemchak of Lake Riviera was with her husband, Matt, and children Emily, 14 and Ethan, 9. They were looking through clumps of seaweed near the water’s edge for debris, where they found cigarette butts and some small pieces of plastic.

The Kozemchak family (Tina, Matt, Emily, and Ethan) sift through seaweed to get plastic and other debris off the beach. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  “Emily, who is in the Brick Township High School Key Club, volunteered for the Beach Sweep,” Tina said. “I’m happy there’s not more garbage – we’re only finding tiny pieces.”

  “Pick Up Brick” was sponsored locally by the Environmental Commission, the Green Team and the Clean Communities Coordinator.

  All the trash and debris that had been collected was deposited in receptacles that had been set up by the Brick Department of Public Works.