Held every fourth Sunday of the month, The Alamitos Beach Clean Up is an organization that partners with the Adopt-a-Beach Program to provide trash bags and gloves to citizens for monthly beach cleanups.
The beach has always been a special place for Cuban-born Mayra Galutza. She remembers strolling down the Cuban beaches as a kid, loving the sense of the ocean spray hitting her face, hearing the waves, and feeling the sand between her toes. Galutza came to the United States in 1962, right before the Cuban Missile Crisis. She was 15 years old.
“My family and I were here before the flights stopped [to the United States] because of the Missile Crisis. I was lucky.”
Galutza and her family landed in Florida, then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma before settling in California. Nearly six decades later, now retired and living in the condominiums next to the historic Villa Riviera on Ocean Boulevard, Galutza still loves the beach and helping keep it clean.
“I’m passionate about the environment and I’m passionate about animal welfare, which to me, is all one in the same,” Galutza said as she picked up a piece of trash while volunteering over Memorial Day weekend with Alamitos Beach Clean Up.
Alamitos Beach Clean Up is an organization that partners with the Adopt-a-Beach program to provide trash bags and gloves to citizens for beach cleanups held every fourth Sunday of the month. Enter the parking lot on Beach Access Road off of Shoreline Drive and you will see their shade tent along the bike path.
“We are going to be celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Alamitos Beach Clean Up in August,” said Vanessa Hurtado, the co-founder and lead organizer of the Alamitos Beach Clean Up. “We always get a pretty good turnout — we get a lot of students who need their service hours, but a lot of the time, they will come back and bring their friends and family. Once people get here they are like, ‘Wow this is awesome, I got to tell more people about this.’”
Galutza has been volunteering with Alamitos Beach Clean Up ever since she moved to Long Beach. She says even when she is not helping with beach cleanups, she always brings a bag and a glove in her pocket when taking a stroll on the beach, just in case.
“When I’m walking along the shore, evidently, I’m always going to find junk that either washes in with the tide or from people just dropping trash on the ground carelessly,” Galutza said. One of the most interesting items Galutza picked up from the beach was an old breast pump. She says the most common items she comes across are styrofoam and straws.
“Beach cleanups are extremely important,” Galutza said. “I will tell you, it’s a constant battle to keep the ocean protected and clean.”
Also in partnership with the Alamitos Beach Clean Up, The Long Beach Environmental Alliance sets up a shade tent beside the official beach cleanup sign-in, hoping to draw awareness, among other important causes, to the effects of cigarette buds that harm the environment. They give beach cleanup participants a separate bag for these toxic cigarette buds.
“I will belong to any organization that helps the environment, Galutza said. “It’s a good feeling to know that you’re making a difference in the overall health of your community.”
The Alamitos Beach Clean Up will have its next beach cleanup on Sunday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Advanced sign up is not necessary; however, if bringing a large group, it’s best to contact the organization ahead of time to ensure that there are enough supplies.
For more information about Alamitos Beach Clean Up, visit their Facebook page.