Unexpected bills from dumpsters that were burned over the Fourth of July holiday added another $1,500 worth of expense to that cleanup and taught us about the liability taken on when renting dumpsters. It includes incidents like a child crawling on a dumpster and getting hurt or an innocent onlooker getting hurt as a dumpster bursts into flames. Rising costs and these concerns have the beach cleanup group looking for long-term solutions to growing expenses and liability issues.

Wonderful support from this community's individuals, families, merchants, organizations and more continues to pour in, making a record turnout this last cleanup of 750 volunteers (getting closer to the 1,000 volunteers needed each July 5). Celebrators are beginning to pack out more debris each year; the dumpsters were 50 percent full at the start of cleanup (although one dumpster was illegally filled with roofing material). This past July 5's monster 20-ton haul was paid for by Surfside Homeowners Association, with the majority funded by the city of Long Beach and State Parks. Our next two cleanups, barring any unexpected issues, will be covered by Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, with the majority by our local Marine Resource Committee. The July 5, 2011, cleanup and beyond might just be up to us, the community. Maybe it is the time and opportunity for our community to own the cleanup from start to end and not be bound by anyone's budget cycle (grateful as we are for what we've received).

To kick this off, one of our newer businesses, The Lost Roo, owned by Mark and Helen Johnson, has stepped up and pitched a generous amount to help cover our costs. Mark commented, "We supported community efforts like this in Scotland. We wanted to make a large impact so we chose those things closest to us. The beach brought us here, so it seemed a natural fit to help support the cleaning of it." (More to come on this.)

Since from nearly its inception, the cleanup effort has been supported by local businesses - Jack's Country Store, Sid's Supermarket, The Berry Patch and Okie's Thriftway Market - by supplying items for the volunteers' thank-you soup feed. Meal coupons are offered by 42nd Street Café and free coffee by Long Beach Coffee Roasters to each volunteer on cleanup days for a number of years. We are grateful for everyone's contribution; however, now, for our community to truly own the cleanup, we need to figure out a way to fund each one and not have to wonder how they will be paid for each time. It takes about $5,000 in annual dump fees to make it happen, as well as some funds for garbage bags and printing of the flyers and posters. Every person who is involved volunteers their time - no one is paid - so all funds go to the effort.

The beach cleanup group is looking for support, with an aim to keep the funding simple and the volunteer effort's hours to be actually cleaning the beach. One idea is to have a voluntary checkbox on your utility or sanitation bill for $5 or $10 each year. Other suggestions are most welcome, as well as help to pull them off! What are your ideas?

An annual planning meeting will be held Sunday, Nov. 14, at 4 p.m. Call me if you'd like to join in at 642-0033.


Grassroots Garbage Gang

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