MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Ninety-one year old Elmer Eddy has a passion for Earth conservation. In fact, the founder of Waterway Stewards, formally known as White Oak River Basin Stewards, owns a canoe with the motto, “Y’all pledge… I will not litter!” painted on the side.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, volunteers from all over North Carolina and service members aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune teamed up with the legendary figure who has made it his goal in life to get as many people involved with the pledge he feels so strongly about. With the sun shining and the waves calm, they paddled out to the shores of New River in kayaks and canoes to pick up trash, April 22.
“This is a clean up of the New River coastline adjacent to Camp Lejeune,” said Capt. Orlando Chaparro, deputy director of Environmental Management Division for Camp Lejeune, and co-coordinator of the Earth Day event. “By cleaning the (coastline), we are beautifying Camp Lejeune.”
Volunteers from a number of different organizations such as Fayetteville’s Lumber River Canoe Club and New Bern’s Twin Rivers Paddle Club teamed up with groups of Marines and sailors. They split up into smaller groups, each covering a different area of the coastline, and collected trash, tires and even old toys.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Hutchins, a corpsman with 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, enjoys kayaking and said this was a good opportunity for him to combine his interests and gain a new experience.
“You meet new people who like to do the same thing and you get to help out,” said Hutchins. “It’s rewarding.”
Eddy said he was excited to see both veteran stewards and newcomers at this event, and said their contributions today would have a tremendous impact in the long-run, especially for those who enjoy water sports.
“You don’t see trash on a football, basketball or baseball field,” said Eddy. “Paddling is our sport, the waterway is our field and we want to keep it clean. People can do so by not littering.”
Lance Cpl. Timothy Chase, an assistant administrative clerk with Company B, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, said he enjoyed this Earth Day excursion, but emphasized Earth Day responsibilities were not one-time occasions.
“Earth Day shouldn’t be a chore,” said Chase. “We should be keeping the Earth clean every day.”
Impossible task? Eddy and other members of Waterway Stewards don’t think so. Their idea is simple: “if nobody litters, there won’t be trash to pick up.”
For more information on Waterway Stewards or to contact Elmer Eddy, please visit the website whiteoakstewards.org.