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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Volunteers will tide over Galveston to clean beaches


The Metropolitan Volunteer Program started cleaning up Galveston beaches after the Deepwater Horizon spill six years ago, but their annual trips continued because of constant trash build-up. | Courtesy of Chris Pinto/MVP

The Metropolitan Volunteer Program will host their annual Adopt-A-Beach event this Saturday to encourage sustainability in the Galveston Beach area. Any UH student is welcome to join them, but sign-ups close Friday.

This weekend, the group will take a bus down to Surfside Beach to pick up trash from visitors and offshore dumping. Students will break up into small groups and together clean up different sections of the beach.

UH is currently the only school in Texas to organize this major service event every year.

Mathematical finance senior Chris Pinto, director of MVP, believes that this event is an opportunity for students to unite and beautify the Galveston community.

“It’s a very cool opportunity to get to connect students who come from different backgrounds,” Pinto said. “We can get students plugged in to make them feel like they’re making a difference.”

MVP prides itself on its inclusivity of the entire student body. It is one of the most diverse organizations on campus since anyone who wants to make a positive impact on the community can become involved.

Pinto said many international students choose MVP because events like Adopt-A-Beach help them see more of Texas and ignite their enthusiasm for community service.

“Everywhere else in the world, they’re taught to put others first and there’s a big emphasis on family and being a part of the community,” Pinto said. “A lot of them have only seen their home country, so it’s the first time some of them get to experience what a beach looks like.”

The Adopt-A-Beach program started after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010. It remains one of a few service projects that MVP plans outside of Houston.

The project continues because trash dumped into the Gulf of Mexico eventually finds its way to Texas beaches and contributes to the mounting garbage. With each year that the volunteer students go to Surfside Beach, they’re hoping to decrease the level of damage that the casually strewn garbage has had on the animals as well as the water.

Last year, volunteers picked up 62 cigarette butts on the beach among all the other disregarded trash. Visiting Galveston annually gives the students the chance to clean up months’ worth of garbage and make a visible impact on the state of the beach.

“We, as humans, are privileged and have dominion over our planet,” Communication sciences and disorders junior Celene Marie Morales, who is also MVP’s children and education chair, said. “By doing these little things and helping in such small ways, you perpetuate the ideal that we do need to invest in trying to preserve our planet because it’s our home.”

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