OCEAN CITY – Following a successful trash collection effort in 2023, a grassroots organization is hoping to continue its cleanup efforts in the new year.
Throughout the course of 2023, Beach Heroes-OC volunteers removed roughly 14.6 tons of trash and debris in Ocean City. Now, as the new year commences, the group is eager to continue helping the town keep its beaches and streets clean.
“We really want to recognize the efforts the town makes, the businesses make …,” said Leslie Eisenhauer, one of six administrators on the group’s administrative team. “They do a great job picking trash up. We’re just that extra hands-on, on-the-street action group.”
In 2016, a group of citizens began collecting trash in Ocean City. Since that time, the group has evolved into a structured volunteer organization, Beach Heroes-OC.
“It’s just people wanting to give back and take care of this incredible place where we live,” Eisenhauer said.
Every Tuesday, from 9-10 a.m., community members are invited to volunteer their time to clean up a section of Ocean City. In 2023, Beach Heroes-OC volunteers contributed 1,868 volunteer hours to the town, collecting items such as construction debris, dirty diapers, bottles, cups and more.
“The town does an amazing job. Their public works does an incredible job, 24/7 in the summer. They rake the beaches, they are out there with the street sweepers …,” Eisenhauer explained. “We’re just more of the boots on the ground, digging into the nooks and crannies, the streets and in the bushes and doing things they don’t have the staff to do. That’s where we step in.”
Eisenhauer said the group averages 50 to 60 volunteers a week during the summer months and between 25 and 30 volunteers during the offseason. She said locations are posted each week on the group’s Facebook page, and volunteers typically span a six-block radius.
“They just have to find the location and show up. We will have our materials ready to go and a big smile welcoming them and encouraging them …,” she said. “We have incredible, dedicated volunteers that come back week after week.”
Eisenhauer noted that the group also receives support from the town, which provides materials and free publicity on the town website. She said the partnership with the Town of Ocean City – as well as with local businesses, news outlets and like-minded organizations – has contributed to the group’s success in 2023.
“Another key thing is consistency,” she said. “People can count on it every Tuesday morning. It’s every month, every week, and it’s really helped to establish a routine that people can expect.”
Beach Heroes-OC administrators say they hope the weekly cleanups highlight the importance of disposing of trash properly. As they look to the new year, administrators say they will continue to host cleanup events and develop in-season activities that draw attention to disposal efforts.
“We’re really hoping we create an awareness of how important it is to make sure things are disposed of properly because we live in this fragile ecosystem, this coastal environment,” Eisenhauer said. “Everywhere the trash goes, eventually it’s going to end up in a waterway and eventually into the ocean. It’s something we all want people to be more aware of. Pitch in. Don’t walk by a piece of trash on the ground. If you see it, pick it up and dispose of it properly. The more people pitch in and help, the better off the whole town and coastal environment will be.”
Eisenhauer said weekly cleanup locations are posted on the Beach Heroes-OC Facebook page. She noted the group meets every Tuesday morning from 9-10.