ONEULA BEACH PARK, Ewa Beach --
Under a bright blue sky with the spray of salt water drifting in the air, Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 3 and other volunteers helped the Make-A-Wish Hawaii organization raise money by cleaning the beach park, May 4.
Leah Vanek, a special events coordinator with Make-A-Wish and native of Kanopolis, Kan., said the beach cleanup will bring the organization a $1,000 donation to make the wish of a child with a terminal illness come true.
“The Matson Container for the Land program donates money to non-profits after we designate and clean an area,” Vanek said. “Since we are a nonprofit organization, we rely on volunteers for support and to raise money. At this point, we are set to grant 70 local wishes in Hawaii.”
As the Hawaiian sun beat down, the volunteers and Marines searched the beach for trash as locals stopped to thank them for taking the time to help keep Hawaii beautiful.
Staff Sgt. Peter Morales, utilities maintenance chief for CLB-3 and a native of Chicago, said it’s important for the locals to see Marines in an encouraging way in the community.
“When Marines volunteer for events like this, it shows the local community we are doing something to give back,” Morales said. “We are out here to be in contact with the community. It also benefits junior Marines to see their seniors out here and to be a part of something to help those in need.”
Utilizing trash claws and bags, the Marines and volunteers made the most of their dirty work by chatting, listening to music, and enjoying the view of the crystal waters of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the island.
Cpl. Jorge Valdivia, a heavy equipment mechanic with CLB-3 and native of Cudahy, Calif., said he has participated in volunteer events with Make-A-Wish in the past and was looking forward to being able to participate again.
“I had a good time volunteering in the past since it’s a good cause,” Valdivia said. “Marines volunteering and giving back is a must, especially because of the time otherwise spent in our barracks. We have the opportunity to make a difference on our weekends off.”
The Marines, clad in white and blue Make-A-Wish shirts, were glad to have their presence noted after local community members stopped in their vehicles to greet them and ask why they were there cleaning.
As the day ended, everyone gathered with the sun still shining to discuss the event and remark on the volunteers’ hard work.
Jason Black, a creative specialist with Make-A-Wish and native of Honolulu, said the turnout of Marines was wonderful because of their drive.
“The Marines today were awesome because they worked hard and didn’t need a lot of direction,” Black said. “They are motivated to come and help, and we hope that they continue to do so in the future.”