Cleaning up area beaches, it's a big deal. In North Carolina, it's the Big Sweep, a local event that has global connections. “Big Sweep started in coastal North Carolina about twenty years ago, and now its part of the International Coastal Cleanup, which happens in about 100 countries. So we have about 400,000 volunteers who participate throughout the world. So people who are participating in Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, we're all doing something that's happening throughout the world,” said Jennifer O’Keefe. Locally, hundreds of people have been involved in cleaning up the coast, including WWAY’s Hailey Winslow. “We're out here by Johnnie Mercer's Pier which is the most popular, but also the dirtiest part of Wrightsville Beach. The most common thing that we're finding is cigarette butts.” In fact, you wont believe how many of these are in the sand. “Last year we found 3,585, and that was just in a two hour period at a few locations,” O’Keefe said. It's a big effort that gets people young and old to lend a helping hand, and shows them how to take care of our environment. “You can tell when you talk to some of the children that are here. I think they're enthusiastic about it, and it gives them a chance to find out why its important to keep our beaches clean,” said David Cignotti. All in all, the Big Sweep continues to be a great way to get involved and keep our beaches beautiful. Big Sweep began as a beach sweep in 1987 and is now an annual statewide event. If you missed this past weekend's Big Sweep, you can pitch in this coming Saturday at Holden Beach.
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