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More than 100 volunteers turn out for Rivers Alive cleanup
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Rivers Alive conducted a cleanup of the Savannah River and Ebenezer Creek, with more than 100 volunteers participating. They removed nearly one ton of trash and recyclable materials. - photo by Photo courtesy of Adam Kobek

The largest ever and third annual Rivers Alive Savannah River Cleanup removed nearly one ton of recyclable material and trash from the Savannah River on Sept. 27, thanks to the dedication of 123 volunteers.

Students, parents, snakes and rabbits from across Effingham County braved the rain, drizzle and overcast skies to clean up the Savannah River. The final tally of trash totaled 1,280 pounds of recyclable material and 620 pounds of rubbish.

From the bow of a canoe to the stern of a high-speed motor boat, volunteers pulled two picnic tables, old plastic swimming pools, grills and rubbish from area sandbars and along the banks of the Savannah River and Ebenezer Creek. Some volunteers made it onto the river for the first time and they in turn helped the river by retrieving trash and debris.

Volunteers were treated to canoes provided by Ogeechee River Canoe and Kayak Rentals, thanks to Republic Waste, and the students were able to pilot their own boats up the Ebenezer Creek to scavenge for trash.

Effingham County Sheriff’s Office’s Matt Holbrook, Craig Mazzara from Georgia-Pacific and Scott and Sandra Hendrix helped ferry volunteers to Big Boykin sand bar and beyond for the river cleanup, while Ted and Aaron Derouen hauled in four large bags of trash in their solo vessel.

Volunteers had a swimmingly great time at Ebenezer Landing taking in the sights, visiting with friends and checking out a few corn snakes and one fluffy rabbit provided by South Effingham Middle School’s Joan Hightower.

Landlubbers perused the banks both north and south in hunt of aluminum cans, glass bottles and broken coolers. Wanda Price from Effingham County Sanitation Department doled out snacks and managed the free T-shirt program, which were provided to every volunteer. Steve Bodiford helped by directing traffic and encouraging litter collecting volunteers.

The Savannah River Cleanup effort is headed by Christine Kirkland, a teacher at South Effingham Middle School who started the event after her first encounter with Paddle Georgia.  Kirkland’s family also took part in the event as her son Wyman guided paddlers up the Ebenezer, while Glenn Kirkland stood ready to serve hibiscus and sweet tea provided by the Pooler Starbucks back at the landing.

Virginia Russell and Jason McCoy shared their canoe to eager youth who patiently waited for their canoe adventure.

Anyone interested in helping out next year can contact Kirkland at or, or check out Effingham Savannah River Cleanup on Facebook.

Rivers Alive is Georgia’s annual volunteer waterway cleanup that targets all waterways in the state including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches and wetlands, and is a program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Outreach Program.