Story by Cpl Khalil Ross
KAILUA, Hawaii — During an Earth Day cleaning project, Hui o Koolaupoko, and 28 Marines from Combat Assault Company, 3rd Marine Regiment, went to clean the environment at Kailua Beach Park, April 25, 2015.
Marie Sode, a volunteer of Hui o Koolaupoko for two years, said they were working in concert with a larger environmental cleanup organization, Sustainable Coastlines.
Sode said the Marines and civilians who were picking up trash were reusing orange bags and feed bags to reduce the waste of materials. The volunteers would empty the bags and head back out.
“The project was to pick up trash, trim (wild limbs and branches) and replant local (flora in the community),” Sode said. “The plants hold the soil together and prevent runoff into the waterways.”
1st Lt. Ken Pierson, platoon commander of CAC, said he had heard about the volunteer event and shared the opportunity with his Marines.
The Marines and civilians were picking up various cigarette butts, plastic wrappers and other miscellaneous trash that accumulates.
Marines are typically at a duty station for three years and some never even leave the installation to explore the community, Pierson said.
“I think it’s important for Marines to embrace the community whenever (they) can,” he said. “There is no better way to embrace the community than to literally come out and clean it up.”
Sode said she has been living in Kailua since 1975 and has seen a lot of interactions between the locals and military interactions the last few decades.
“There has been a line between the two for many years,” she said. “The military (personnel) have been completely sustainable on their bases and that has caused some problems. Now that the military is getting out and interacting with the community, there is a huge improvement (in relations).”
Pierson said there are many different organizations to help the environment. Any service member can join up.
“(The Marine Corps) really promotes people coming out and helping with the community,” Sode said. “There are all sorts of organizations that anyone can join on the weekends. We have children come out with their parents to show them how to pull weeds or we have intermediate and high school students help out.”
Pierson said it’s important to show surrounding communities that military personnel are residents too and they want to do anything they can to help the community.
“Every Marine should take an opportunity to (help out) at least once,” he said. “(Come out) and really see the people they live with.”