Marine, beach cleanup bash in Vero Beach to benefit group

VERO BEACH – Riverside Café will be hosting a benefit party tonight to help raise funds and awareness for Marine Cleanup Initiative, a non-profit group dedicated to clearing waterways of trash and debris.

“Out of sight doesn’t make it right,” is one of many mottos for Capt. Don Voss, leader of the group.

He is trying to raise $157,000 to receive a matching grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help raise derelict boats from the waters and remove bundles of tangled fishing line and other discarded items that cause ecological harm.

“We’re going to make it happen,” Capt. Voss said.

Part of that effort will happen this evening starting at 7, where will be chance drawings and other fund-raising activities. Then, on Saturday, Capt. Voss’s group will head out from the café to a disabled boat under the Barber Bridge to teach divers how to raise and remove such vessels.

“It’s a teachable moment,” Capt. Voss said of being able to show others what to do while in zero-visibility water.

“We’re looking forward to that,” he said.

The Beach Cleanup Bash Friday evening is being held in conjunction with Vero Beach Mayor Kevin Sawnick’s monthly beach cleanup.

Organizers at the benefit will be on hand to sign up new volunteers for Saturday’s cleanup.

In an effort to further support Marine Cleanup Initiative, Mayor Sawnick’s cleanup Saturday will be along the Indian River Lagoon, rather than on the beach.

“We thought we would change things up,” he said of the cleanup.

Though normally held in the morning, organizers have decided that the event will be held in the evening, from 5 to 7 p.m.

“It is way too hot,” Mayor Sawnick said of being on the beach in the morning during summer.

Jimmy Hayes, of Riverside Café, said that the restaurant staff is happy to host the Beach Cleanup Bash.

“We like to give back,” he said. “It’s a great cause.”

 Want to go?

Where: Riverside Café, 3301 Bridge Plaza Drive, Vero Beach

When: Friday 7-9 p.m. / Saturday 11 a.m.- boat removal; 5-7 p.m. – Lagoon shoreline cleanup

 Want to help?

Marine Cleanup Initiative is collecting donations to go toward a matching grant from NOAA. For more information or to donate, visit

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