Jacksonville Youth Beach Cleanup
Although the Red Cross Youth Club of Northeast Florida has not celebrated its one year anniversary, they have already made an impact not only in their Red Cross community, but also in the Jacksonville Community. Their July service project went beyond the scope of a day at the beach. The twenty students arrived at the beach at eight a.m. on July 5th, before the seagulls had awakened, to clear the beach of waste and debris. While the beach started to fill with residents of the Jacksonville area ready to enjoy their time in the sun, Club Red was well underway filling their trash bags with cigarette butts, pieces of plastic, and other various ‘treasures’ that were found in the sand. After two hours, the youth, in partnership with other members of the community, collected around 14 bags of waste.
The beach was not pristine at the end of this effort, but the impact of Club Red’s service would positively affect the city of Jacksonville, who boasts warm Atlantic waters from the months of May to September. President of The Bolles School, Maria Muzaurieta, felt the positive influence of the day, saying “I always feel like the projects we participate in are relevant in the community. Through the small and large service projects we do, I feel that we are always contributing to the larger, American Red Cross goals.”
After the morning cleaning the beach, the students then went on to take a tour of the Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps station, the last such operational station in the country. These men and women devote their summers to protecting the lives of beachgoers, and for that afternoon, the Red Cross Youth Club got a take a peek into that life.
Led by one of the Lieutenants of the Life Saving Corps, Max Ervanian, the youth first got a chance to hear the history of the lifeguards at Jacksonville. Following this, they were also able to view the many rooms that make up the station, including a weight room and sleeping quarters. Seeing the various parts of the lifeguard station, the students got to see how much of a responsibility, and an honor, it is to become part of the team.
From the top of the lifeguard station, one can see across many miles of the beach, creating one of the best views possible of the oceanfront. This view is often used to observe rip currents, and see if there is anyone in need. However, for the students, the lookout point was solely for enjoyment.
The Youth Club spans from the ages of 11 to 18. Because of this, many of these students will soon graduate and go on to college where their horizons will expand infinitely. However, bringing these youth together not only allows them to go beyond the normal community service projects, it also creates a connection with the Red Cross. Our experience with them may become an inspiration for them to deploy during a national disaster or allow them to think about working for the American Red Cross.