As the cross country team (made up of more than 50 students) set off from Anacortes Middle School Thursday, Sept. 19, it looked a little different than normal.
In addition to their running clothes and sneakers, the young athletes sported blue gloves and carried garbage bags that fluttered in the wind behind them.
Small teams of runners headed off in different directions with one goal — to clean up the streets while they ran their roughly two to three miles.
The group participated in a team-wide cleanup effort, inspired by young runner Jonah Jeter.
The eighth-grader just joined the AMS cross country team this year after moving back to Anacortes. He said when he would go on walks with his dad, his dad would always bring a bag to pick up trash along his route.
When Jonah started running with the team, he noticed trash along the trail and started picking it up. When he couldn’t carry any more in his hands, he pulled out the bottom of his shirt to carry more.
The next day, he showed up with a bag. Each day, he heads out with his bag and picks up the trash he sees.
“The amount of trash that is ending up in our oceans is tremendous,” he said. “We need to do our part and be responsible about pollution.”
Plastic bags are especially bad for sealife, he said.
His teammates started to feel inspired by Jonah and his drive to help clean up Anacortes, coach Tammy Templeton said. So the coaches organized the team cleanup day.