TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — A group of 14 moms and kids have teamed up with Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers to turn one particular type of beach litter into a fun project and special initiative, all for a good cause.
Over the past 18 months, the volunteer group that hosts weekly beach cleanups on Tybee has been collecting and saving the large amount of toys left behind on the beach.
“One of the things that we pick up most often, other than cigarette butts, are beach toys, both broken and whole,” said Tim Arnold, one of the Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers organizers.
The broken ones, Arnold told News 3, eventually break down and become microplastics in the sand or ocean, so the cleanup group tries to recycle those items.
But the toys that weren’t damaged could be reused in some way, so the group stored them behind the Marine Science Center.
They’ve been able to amass an impressive collection of “several hundreds” of reusable toys that would’ve otherwise been left behind to pollute the coastline — and that amount reaches the thousands if factoring in the broken, now-useless items, Arnold said.
“It’s a chronic problem,” he said.
“With beach toys, I think people come on holiday, they don’t want to take all the stuff back, so they leave it, thinking that somebody else will take it off the beach; but people don’t do that.”
The Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers weren’t exactly sure what to do with the toys, so they enlisted the help of Lea Lynch from Tybee Tots, a local mom-and-tot group that partners with other organizations on the island for community-oriented projects.
From an early age, kids should know that it’s up to all of us to be responsible for keeping somewhere clean, and we have to lead by example.”KELLY JONES, TYBEE TOTS
Lynch is also the mother of first grader Dorothy, the 6-year-old child entrepreneur who is behind the helpful Sting Stopper jellyfish injury kits sold on Tybee.
Lynch had the “brilliant idea” for a project with those reusable toys through the Tybee Tots program, Arnold said.
In July, the Tybee Tots joined the beach cleanup group to clean and refurbish the toys.
“The kids really seemed to enjoy being in on the process,” said Tybee resident Kelly Jones, a mother who took part in the project with her two children via Tybee Tots.
“I honestly think they were surprised at how many toys had been left on the beach,” Jones said.
After the toys were as good as new, they wanted to do something special and creative with them to breathe a second life into these toys and make them of interest to the rest of the local community.
They decided to do a fundraiser to sell the toys in the form of their fun creations: “Beach Bucket Bouquets” and “Crab Bag Grab Bags,” Lynch told News 3.
“The kids from Tybee Tots, along with the YMCA campers, actually made paper flowers and decorated the Beach Bucket Bouquets to make it look like a real bouquet that you might find at your doorstep,” Lynch said.
Inside the Crab Bag Grab Bags, Lynch said, are an assortment of miscellaneous toys and surprises including a gift card from local Tybee businesses, included in some of the bags.
The sale is donation-based, she said, and 100 percent of the money raised will go back to the Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers to help the group fund additional beach debris removal projects.
“From an early age, kids should know that it’s up to all of us to be responsible for keeping somewhere clean, and we have to lead by example,” said Jones.
“I think it’s important for them to know that it doesn’t require a ton of effort to make a difference,” she told News 3.
On Monday, Aug. 19 from 4-7 p.m., the Tybee Tots and their cool creations will be at the Tybee Island Farmer’s Market, featured as the “Kid Biz of the Week.”