OCEAN CITY — Local resident Effie Cox was honored this week with the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County for her role in founding and fostering the Ocean City Surf Club’s Adopt Your Beach program.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot on Monday presented the award virtually to Cox and the Ocean City Surf Club. Under Cox’s direction and tireless energy, the program was founded in 2014 as a means to muster volunteers to clean the beaches in Ocean City from trash and debris several times a year.
From modest beginnings in 2014, the Adopt Your Beach program has grown to cover every single beach from the Inlet to the Delaware line, which are cleaned by volunteers at least four time a year. The clean-up days result in about 500 pounds of trash and debris collected.
The program has also spawned the popular Adopt Your Street program, which follows the same basic principles applied to the side streets in the ocean block.
“Effie Cox started the Adopt Your Beach program in 2014 as part of the Ocean City Surf Club’s efforts to clean the beach and steer environmental activism from both locals and tourists that frequent the beach town each summer,” he said. “The all-volunteer program partners with a myriad of schools, scouting groups and organizations to maintain litter-free beaches, raise awareness of the importance of clean waterways and collect statistical data on the debris found. These activities embody the principles that William Donald Schaefer, the late Baltimore mayor, Maryland governor and comptroller held dear.”
Cox on Monday humbly accepted the award on behalf of the Ocean City Surf Club and heaped praise on her colleagues in the club and the countless volunteers that make the program so successful.
“What I can say, honestly, is we have an awesome community and this is their award,” she said. “All I did was say let’s do this as a community and they all stood up and said yes. I know I am biased, but I am so proud of all of the businesses, locals, visitors, kids and civic organizations that are part of Adopt Your Beach.”
Cox said the Adopt Your Beach program has garnered national attention and is being mimicked in other coastal communities.
“It’s showing other communities what a huge difference they can make one person at a time,” she said. “I had a group in New Jersey reach out to me to say they were taking a page out of our book and doing the same thing on their beach too.”
Ocean City Councilman and Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, chair Tony DeLuca praised Cox for her vision in creating the program.
“It was under her direction that individuals and groups adopted 146 blocks of beach to be cleaned four times a year by volunteers,” he said. “As a result of Effie’s hard work and commitment, Ocean City’s beautiful beaches are cleaner than ever, including our dunes. She has truly made a difference.”
For his part, Ocean City Surf Club President Tommy Vach also had high praise for Cox and her dedication to the Adopt Your Beach program.
“From the inception of this environmental program, she has been enthusiastically involved in its rapid growth and, in turn, its tremendous success,” he said. “You have to have heart to care about something as passionately as Effie does for her desire to keep our community clean.”
Vach said the Adopt Your Beach program helps fill in the gaps the town’s public works department can’t reach.
“As a participant of Adopt Your Beach, I can tell you personally how much impact these volunteers have on keeping our beaches clean,” he said. “The town of Ocean City does a fantastic job of cleaning the beach with its tractors, but those machines can’t get to the trash up by the dunes and up next to the Boardwalk. That’s where the sand soldiers of Adopt Your Beach come in to help complete the cleaning. In addition, they clean up the beach entrances from the head of the street to the beach.”
Vach said the program under Cox’s leadership has grown to the point every ocean black has been adopted, but there is always room for more volunteers.
“Effie’s tireless efforts in promoting beach clean-ups all year long continues to have a meaningful impact and she’s making a real difference,” he said. “And she will tell you, even though the streets in Ocean City have been adopted by individuals, families, businesses and organizations, there is always room for more participants, because the more people we have cleaning any given street or beach just means the more times the beaches are being cleaned. We congratulate Effie on this well-deserved award and we are thankful she is part of our non-profit organization.”