Headstart kids help clean up beach

<i>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I><BR>Melissa Bageant and her daughter Kasey try to pry up an old tire on the beach near the bronze tree monument last Saturday during the beach clean-up. The two were part of the group from Headstart.

LONG BEACH - Children at Headstart proved that no matter what your size, age or background, everyone can contribute and support their community - and have great fun while doing it.

On Saturday, a group gathered at the center to join in the effort to clean up the beaches. The theme for the day, in addition to contributing, was, of course, garbage.

"We have such a giving community," said Sherry Berteaux, the family advocate. "We just thought this was a great way to give back."

First, to keep the fire in their bellies, the children sat down for a good breakfast and welcomed the day and each other with their "good morning song," which they enthusiastically belted out in both English and Spanish.

Then they bundled up tight and headed for the beach. Even the trip was an adventure as they cheerfully navigated flooded sections of the trail and passed the Clark Tree monument.

"I found a piece of seaweed," little Patrick proudly announced as his cohorts dashed about, hunting down garbage like Easter eggs. "I found a shoe," said another.

This year their help was particularly appreciated. The recent storms had thrown large amounts of trash up on the beach, from buckets to hubcaps and lots of plastics.

Katie, Darion and Patrick joined forces with one of the mothers, Jessica, to tug a hunk of rope free from the sand. After much tugging and laughter, the rope suddenly gave way, tumbling them down.

In the background, little Kevin chanted "the garbage, the garbage, the garbage."

The kids and adults, showed their heart as they continued to work through the sudden downpours and intermittently wet weather. The group was accompanied by Headstart Director Elizabeth Hadley aboard her all-terrain vehicle, a horse named Extra Credit, an inspiration, and goal, for the children.

Finally, bags stuffed like Santas, the group returned to Headstart. Little Marco, apparently not yet at his water saturation level, insisted on splashing through every puddle on the way back. They were greeted with a hot lunch and a story, "The Garbage Monster."

Headstart is an educational program designed for the whole family. Students between the ages of 3 and 5 are accepted. Currently there are 28 children enrolled, but the program can accommodate 32.

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