By Nicholas Deckmejian
On September 17, the Sea Bright Beach received some tender love and care, thanks to the United Donations Organization (uDo) Coastal Cleanup Day. uDo partnered with Clean Ocean Action to organize a day dedicated to helping the community by gathering volunteers to help rid trash from a stretch of the Jersey shore left unattended and dirtied by recent storms.
Most locals consider spending a day at the beach in September to be a slice of paradise, but spending hours bending over and dragging heaps of trash in the sun can be a bit laborious. But the udo Beach Cleanup event felt like far less of a chore, thanks to the organizers and a very compliant Mother Nature. Even though the satisfaction of working hard to improve the environment should be sufficient reward, the organizers took it upon themselves to make this day as fun as possible for the volunteers.
The intent to have a great time was abundantly clear right from the beginning, as the event kicked off with an early morning yoga session, compliments of Amanda Schweers. As the morning progressed, a steady flow of volunteers began rolling up to the meeting point, where they went through registration and met the rest of their fellow beach sweepers.
Volunteers were encouraged to raise $10 in sponsorship money to help make the morning even more impactful. Each $10 helps uDo sponsor a year of dental care for one child, out of 40,000 kids at risk in our community, through The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The money helps provide four USDA-certified, patented bamboo-handled toothbrushes, two big tubes of toothpaste (each lasting six months), education for positive habit forming (including literature, videos, and classes), and medical intervention for extreme cases. To take the positive initiative a step further, all donated toothbrushes were packed by adults with disabilities at The Arc of Monmouth’s Work Opportunity Center. Not only that, but every volunteer who donated $10 received an awesome white event t-shirt.
Soon, white shirted volunteers were crawling all over the parking lot, waiting to get sent off to tackle their mission. They all gathered around to receive a run-through of what to expect from the day and how to appropriately conduct their sweep. The crowd learned more about the benefits of these types of cleanups and was encouraged to come out for more. After the instructions were given, and a majority of the crew had settled themselves, they all jumped on a bus, courtesy of Shore Regional and Helfrich & Sons, to get dropped off at the start of their designated cleaning area.
The volunteers were fortunate enough to be surrounded by a cool breeze and a warm sun as they worked – and they sure did work. No bottle cap or candy wrapper was safe from the battalion of tidy-uppers. No piece of driftwood was left unturned as they marched block after block, sifting through the sand. Some were shocked by what was left behind by careless beachgoers, which reemphasized the importance of this effort. Without those who volunteer their time to do the dirty work, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beauty of the shore.
After a few hours of heaving litter and washed-up junk, which filled more than 100 trash bags, it was time for everyone to throw their bags over their shoulders and make their way to the bus for pickup. But the day wasn’t over yet, because when the organizers said they wanted to reward their volunteers with a fun day, they meant it. After everyone put in a respectable day’s worth of cleaning, they were all treated to a celebratory concert and fundraiser at the Surfrider Beach Club Tiki Bar. There, they got to take off their grimy gloves, order an ice cold drink, and relax at the tiki bar. Live music was provided, thanks to performances by bands like A Pair of Shoez, Ian Bamberger Trio, and T Burke + Friends.
All in all, the uDo Coastal Cleanup Day was a tremendous event. Not only did the beach look pristine, but now more children in the area will benefit from the type of funds and support raised. It’s all about the kids, and this event surely gives them a reason to smile, as enough money was raised, with the help of volunteers and business contributions, to sponsor more than 1,000 local children. In addition, local children who cannot afford emergency treatment will receive the medical attention required by uDo’s network of local dentists, led by Dr. Benjamin Klayman of Red Bank Smiles.
“Our goal for this event was to raise $10,000 to sponsor 1,000 kids. The community’s generosity allowed us to surpass our goal for Saturday. Our next milestone is to sponsor 10,000 local children by this Christmas, which will require $100,000 in donations. We’re going to get it done, because that’s what uDo does. We get things done,” said founder Anthony Dalleggio.
Over 25 local businesses contributed to the cause to make the day a success, including: Alice’s Kitchen, Anjelica’s Restaurant, Bounce Boat, Cork & Barrel, E.F. Mason Insurance, Homes of Distinction, Ingalls Custom Contracting, Kuzas Neu Law, Melonhead, Ocean Rescue, Saker ShopRite, Salt Creek Grille, Sea Bright Pizzeria, Sea Bright Solar, Sonny’s Sandwiches, Super Golden Restaurant, The Journal Publications, Tommy’s Tavern + Tap, Yumi, and 1-800-DOCTORS. Major sponsors and organizers included Sea Bright Borough, Surfrider Beach Club, Clean Ocean Action, Red Bank Smiles, Harry’s, Nova Boutique, GWG Construction Management and Consulting, and IDR Construction.
For more beach cleanups coming up, Clean Ocean Action’s 31st Annual Beach Sweeps will be held on Saturday, October 22 at over 70 locations statewide. For a complete list of cleanup sites and to pre-register, visit www.CleanOceanAction.org. To support uDo’s volunteer-based charity by sponsoring one local at-risk child’s dental care for a year, please mail a check for $10 payable to “United Donations Organization” to P.O. Box 751, Holmdel, NJ 07733. For more information, please visit United Donations Organization’s website at www.uDoGive.com.