Event participants posed for a photo after cleaning up Colony Beach. 

Event participants posed for a photo after cleaning up Colony Beach. 

On Thursday, February 16th, Sanibel Sea School and the Sanibel Fresh Produce Clothing Store partnered for a beach cleanup at Colony Beach on Sanibel’s east end. Participants were also invited to “give their worries to the sea” during a traditional Sanibel Sea School ceremony, and to enjoy lunch while listening to a talk from Fresh Produce Founder Mary Ellen Vernon titled “Cliff Notes for Life While Building a Business.” 

"Give Your Worries to the Sea" is an annual Sanibel Sea School tradition.

"Give Your Worries to the Sea" is an annual Sanibel Sea School tradition.

After burning slips of paper with worries written on them in a bonfire, the ashes are carried to the beach and sprinkled in the waves. 

After burning slips of paper with worries written on them in a bonfire, the ashes are carried to the beach and sprinkled in the waves. 

After writing down their worries, burning them in a bonfire, and sprinkling the ashes into the sea, guests were given pink gloves and burlap “Love” bags, and spent thirty minutes picking up trash from the beach. The most common items collected were plastic bottle caps, plastic bags, rope and fishing line, and food wrappers. “We love what Sanibel Sea School is doing for the ocean and for the kids,” said Vernon. “It feels good to be a part of something meaningful, by supporting Sanibel Sea School’s mission and taking care of the beach.” 

Most participants preferred to go barefoot during the beach cleanup. 

Most participants preferred to go barefoot during the beach cleanup. 

Doc Bruce gave an impromptu talk about lightning whelk egg cases. 

Doc Bruce gave an impromptu talk about lightning whelk egg cases. 

This event was part of Fresh Produce’s SWELL Initiative, which aims to support communities where the company’s stores are located. A one-time donation was made to Sanibel Sea School, and Fresh Produce designed a special edition “For the Love of the Ocean” sea turtle t-shirt that will also support the non-profit organization’s work. Five dollars from every t-shirt sold will help Sanibel Sea School provide scholarships for more children to experience and learn about the ocean. The t-shirts are now available at the Sanibel Fresh Produce store in Periwinkle Place. 

Fresh Produce Founder Mary Ellen Vernon gave guests tips for "Life While Building a Business."

Fresh Produce Founder Mary Ellen Vernon gave guests tips for "Life While Building a Business."

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean's future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org. To learn more about Fresh Produce and the SWELL Initiative, visit freshproduceclothes.com.

Sales of this special edition Fresh Produce t-shirt, available at the company's Sanibel store, will support Sanibel Sea School's scholarship programs. 

Sales of this special edition Fresh Produce t-shirt, available at the company's Sanibel store, will support Sanibel Sea School's scholarship programs. 

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