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30 Quebec wards, branches help in shoreline cleanup

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Thirty Quebec congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through the Mormon Helping Hands program, joined forces to support the 17th annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. More than 400 Helping Hands volunteers worked at two cleanup sites in the Montreal area. The shoreline cleanup projects were at Montreal's Angrignon Park and along the St. Lawrence River in Longueuil. This was the first ever Quebec-wide Mormon Helping Hands Service Day.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup was initiated in 1994 by the Vancouver Aquarium and is now an annual event in Canada. It has grown into one of the largest cleanup projects in the world. This grass roots initiative allows Canadians to take action and directly affect the communities in which they live.

The program allows participants to clean up their shorelines and the local environment. Through individual action, nearly 1 million kilograms of shoreline litter has been removed from Canadian Shorelines since 1997.

This year's Helping Hands day of service resulted in the collection of 1,873 kilograms (4,130 pounds) of trash, along 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) of Montreal's shoreline. Volunteers filled their bags with common items like plastic bags, plastic bottles, food wrappers and cigarette butts.

The pervasiveness of these items was obvious when the final tally showed the group had collected 3,085 cigarette butts and 2,634 plastic bags that September morning.

Volunteers also collected unusual items such as an artificial tree, credit cards, a garbage bag filled with coats, a ring of 20 keys, a ping pong paddle and a bike. One hundred and fifty bags of garbage and 48 bags of recyclable materials were removed from the area's fragile ecosystem.

Catherine Jarvis is the director of public affairs for the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake.