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On June 1, 1,300 elementary students from inland Orange County schools arrived at Huntington State Beach to celebrate the 24th annual Kids Ocean Day.

During school assemblies leading up to the event, these third through fifth-grade students learned about the issue of ocean pollution, how trash ends up in the ocean and how they can help.

When the students arrived at the beach, equipped with gloves and bags, they took the problem into their own hands – 300 pounds of it, to be exact. Students picked up thousands of pieces of trash, big and small. We saw everything from slivers of plastic and Styrofoam to more unusual pieces, like a panel from a water heater and a whole pumpkin.

Students diligently collected data on the types of trash they found in the sand. Some of the biggest culprits this year were plastic bottle caps, Styrofoam, and cigarette butts.

After scouring the beach, all 1,500 students, teachers, parents, and volunteers joined forces to send a message to the world: “Come Together.” This message was echoed at the six other Kids Ocean Day events up and down the coast of California. When we “Come Together,” anything is possible. No problem is too big, not even ocean pollution.

We want to sincerely thank the California Coastal Commission which allowed us to provide these deserving kids with the opportunity to become ocean activists. Target, Home Depot, Philz Coffee, Chipotle and Stater Bros provided in-kind donations, and volunteers from Disney VoluntEARS, Behr, and the Coastkeeper community helped this event run smoothly.

To get involved with Coastkeeper, please consider joining us at a beach cleanup or donate to protect clean water.