Covid Can’t Stop the Cleanups

CHS student’s efforts to clean up the local beach paid off

Chloe Clendenin, Author

Bella Auricchio hands out free cleanup supplies (Photo provided by Bella Aurrichio)

Over the summer, CHS Senior Bella Auricchio held a beach clean up to help stop pollution to our national state park. There were a total of 18 cleanups from June 22nd to September 20th. Measured by the trash bags, an average of about 90 gallons of trash was produced from each cleanup. 

The local beach cleanups were held at Porter Beach and the Indiana National Dunes State Park.  Auricchio, a senior at Chesterton High School, gathered people by posting flyers on her social media stories and Facebook. The word spread faster than expected and the first beach cleanup was attended by about 90 people, the rest were attended by about 25 people. 

      “I am forever grateful for all of the people who contributed to spreading the word. For the remainder of the beach cleanups, I continued to post on my social media stories, but I also created a Facebook group where the information could be more permanent,” said Auricchio. 

The beach cleanups became a regular, weekly event and locals attended many of them. The Covid pandemic made this slightly more difficult, but Auricchio didn’t view those obstacles as barriers to stop her. She purchased different garbage bags and gloves from grocery stores and received assistance from some local businesses as well. 

     “I enjoyed the support of our community because it reminded me that people truly do care about our local environment. I was also very grateful for the beachgoers who showed their support by joining the cleanup as we walked along the shoreline,” Auricchio continued.

Some have wondered what exactly inspired a teenager to start a local community beach cleanup.  Auricchio is a beach frequenter and realized that the environment needed our help.  

      “I went to the beach about four times a week during the summer to either hike or watch the sunset, and it really opened my eyes to the amount of trash that visitors leave littered along the shoreline. One night while watching the sunset I was picking up pieces of trash with a few of my friends, and I realized that we had to do something.” 

     The trash on the beach from teenagers her age sparked her inspiration and she came up with a beach cleanup. While she organized everything independently, she had help from her friends, family, peers, and community.