Soldiers clean up Spencer Beach and Puako during day off from training at Army facility
Thirty-five soldiers from the 325th Brigade Support Battalion “Mustangs” of the 25th Infantry Division, stationed at Schofield Barracks on O‘ahu, joined in a beach cleanup at Spencer Beach Park and Puako on a day off of their training at U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area.
The March 4 cleanup wasn’t just about picking up trash, it was also about empowering volunteers to become good stewards of the land. The volunteers worked with the nonprofit Keep Puako Beautiful.
According to the nonprofit’s website, 196 pounds of trash was collected at the cleanup.
The volunteers were divided into groups, and given a bucket, grabbers, and a detailed checklist to keep track of the types of trash picked up. The checklist has six categories and more than 40 items, including cups, plates, diapers and cigarette butts.
Keep Puako Beautiful has the goal to remove current threats to the environment and keep trash from becoming marine debris.
“We appreciate the large group of participants to support our cleanup, and hope to continue working with troops from Pōhakuloa,” said Cynthia Ho, lead coordinator with Keep Puako Beautiful & South Kohala Reef Alliance.
1st Sgt. Nutthavut Srisathith of the 25th Infantry Division worked with Pōhakuloa Training Area public affairs office to round up volunteers.
“It was the off day for most of the [soldiers] so I didn’t expect many people to volunteer,” Srisathith said.
“Community is an integral part of our team,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Grooms, commander of the 325th Brigade Support Battalion. “Our soldiers are always striving to find a way to give back and today’s beach cleanup was a great way for them to take a break from training to support this wonderful community.”
Many information booths, such as the Army Corps of Engineers 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report), the Hawai’i Preparatory Academy Sea Turtle Research Conservation Program, and the Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources were set up on the beach to educate the public. There was also a trivia spinner wheel game with many great prizes. One soldier won a free catamaran ride for two. Each volunteer also received a Keep Puako Beautiful T-shirt for their service.
Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area, said the military at the base are always looking for these types of opportunities to give back to the Hawai‘i Island community.
“Giving back and being part of the community is so important to us here at Pōhakuloa Training Area and is a key part of our mission,” he said. “The soldiers who come here to train also fully recognize this, as evidenced by the 35 soldiers who volunteered.”