Sun, Surf, and Trash Bags  

With summer just around the corner, there’s much more talk of beaches lately as we preview the pickins for the friendliest waves and the warmest sand. But some of the most enjoyable beaches are also the cleanest, and whether we realize it or not, well-meaning volunteers are always out there gathering empty chip bags and soda bottles left behind after the picnic. If your family loves spending time at the beach, why not gather the kids and lend a helping hand on clean-up day? Afterwards, you’ll appreciate the pristine sands that much more. Here are some opportunities to consider:

Founded by surfers, Surfrider is a non-profit that includes dog walkers, fisherman, and environmentalists of all stripes. Volunteers come together twice a month for clean-up duty at the beaches, helping to keep our ocean and dunes looking pretty. On June 6, Ocean Beach will receive some needed TLC. Volunteers will meet at Sloat Blvd and Great Hwy in San Francisco at 10 a.m. Clean up ends at 12 p.m., just in time for lunch and hunting for sand dollars.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy welcomes drop-in volunteers to lend a hand while enjoying the ocean spray. As the kids join you in maintaining the beaches, you’ll meet other volunteers and share a rewarding experience together. Little helpers will love feeling so important! Muir Beach volunteers meet every 2nd Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., removing debris and keeping the grounds. Come for one Saturday or many! (The Conservancy also hosts 1st and 3rd Sunday cleanups at Ocean Beach from 10 a.m. to noon.)

Parents and guardians are encouraged to bring youth 15 years and younger on a variety of volunteer opportunities in Bay Area green spaces as well as in schools, parks, and other locations in need of a helping hand. One-time projects and ongoing projects are available, and minimum age requirements may apply. See what they’ve got going on along the coast.

Not all plants are good for an environment. The East Bay Regional Park District stewards can help kids and parents learn which weeds are invasive, and afterwards, they can work away at plucking some off the shoreline. Ongoing habitat restoration projects at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland, and Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond are in need of short-term volunteers to help remove invasive plants. Spend four hours toward a good cause on the last Saturday of the month.

It’s not a beach, but there is water and sand here, and more importantly, thousands of pounds of trash accumulating in the lake each month. Come join retirees, school kids, professionals, and housewives on their Tuesday and Saturday morning missions to help keep the park beautiful. Volunteers are provided with gloves, trash bags, and nets. Get in touch with the coordinator to ensure the workday is confirmed.

—Renee Rutledge