Long Branch: A tired team of about 200 volunteers from Wayne, Howell, Freehold and a dozen other towns in the state, complemented by a crew from Massachusetts waded through the loose sand and tons of refuse to help the Jersey Shore get back on its feet on Saturday.
Along the Madison Avenue stretch from the shops and restaurants at Pier Village to Seven Presidents Park the 200 work-gloved troops collected more than 500 black leaf bags of household articles, empty plastic bottles and just about anything else they could have imagined.
Some of the waste was likely toxic, and care in handling was emphasized by Clean Ocean Action Coordinator Zack McCue.
Mike Kunzig from Wayne’s volunteers was “Giving back to the community, New Jersey,” he said. His home town friends and neighbors know the shore – Long Branch and the towns along the ocean. “Many have summer places and vacation at the beaches.”
A woman from South Jersey was puzzling over how long it would take to “Get Sandy and her mess out of the Shore’s way so we can get to the work of rebuilding.”
For everyone the sentiment was the same, it was everyone’s problem to solve as a community.
At the Stella Maris Retreat Center a mile south along the water, another group with rakes, shovels and garbage bags walked the beachfront where Sandy had tossed a platform structure.
The team calls itself WATERSPIRIT, a non-profit sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. The group was comprised of people from Morris Plains in the north to volunteers from Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties. Sister Frances of Stella Maris was proud of them and thanked and blessed them for their hard work.
“They were great,” she told WORDontheShore. “You should have seen this place when they arrived hours ago.”