Service members volunteer for river cleanup
HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Approximately 15 service members from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, participated in a river cleanup, sponsored by the Single Marine Program, in Asakita-ku, Hiroshima, Sept. 5, 2014.
“The SMP, and I personally, do a lot of community relations events, such as orphanage visits and cleanups,” said Oana Ivanoff, Marine Lounge manager with SMP. “We tend to do cleanups in Futashika; however, I am really trying to expand into other locations.”
Ivanoff said this was the first cleanup she coordinated in Hiroshima, which differed from previous cleanups beyond just location.
“Compared to the other community relations events we do, this one seemed to make a larger impact on the community,” said Ivanoff.
The area the service members cleaned was a beautiful countryside, plagued by years of trash and debris buildup, said Ivanoff.
“That area consists mainly of elderly people who would find it difficult to clean up the area, especially with the larger items the volunteers were finding,” said Ivanoff.
While the service members fished for trash in the river, locals came out to show their gratitude and observe such a rare sight, said Ivanoff.
“Having them come out and show their appreciation for what the volunteers were doing was the most rewarding part,” said Ivanoff. “It proved that we were making a difference to them.”
According to retired Chief Warrant Officer Manuel Rendon, business owner and resident of the community, the locals don’t see very many foreigners in that region.
“They can be a little scared or worried when they see a foreigner in their neighborhood, but I hope we can try to break that barrier with events like this,” said Rendon.
Along with collecting more than 145 bags of trash, Rendon said he enjoyed having the military presence.
“It’s always great to be around young service members,” said Rendon. “It makes you feel like part of the team again.”
Volunteer opportunities are available at multiple locations on base, including SMP, the Iwakuni Thrift Store and the Marine Memorial Chapel.
SMP is hosting another cleanup, Oct. 17, 2014, in the Futashika area. For sign-up information, call the Marine Lounge at 253-5368 or the Hornet’s Nest at 253-3585.