A shining example of industry philanthropy

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A well-deserved salute to the Marine Industries Association of South Florida on tonight’s party marking the 40th anniversary of the Broward County Waterway Cleanup.

MIASF’s Waterway Cleanup is the county’s largest and longest-running environmental event. Actually, it might be the longest-running and most successful event of its kind anywhere. Not only is it a great environmental undertaking, it’s an event that draws boaters and non-boaters to the water’s edge for a common cause.

Last year, nearly 1,500 volunteers of all ages pursued the mission by land, while more than 100 boats worked the waterside at more than 30 locations throughout the county. The result was the removal of 22 tons of trash and debris from the area’s waterways, rivers and canals.

While tonight’s party starts the 2017 cleanup, the army of volunteers will actually hit the waterways on Saturday, March 4 at 9 a.m. But at tonight’s event, organizers, sponsors and media will come together to preview the plans and enjoy voting for the “Fan Favorite” Recycled Art that middle and high school students are invited to submit from last year’s cleanup.

All of this effort does even more than call attention to the marine environment and clean waterways. As part of the cleanup, the MIASF hosts an essay and short-story writing contest for middle and high school students in Broward County schools. The entries must focus on the role the waterways play in the community, whether historically, economically or environmentally.

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The Waterway Cleanup Essay contest awards $500 to high school student winners, while a Waterway Cleanup Short Story competition awards middle school student winners $250. The recycled art contest (for both middle and high school students) winners receive $250 each. All of this year’s winners will be announced at the Waterway Cleanup Trash Bash party for all volunteers held the day of the cleanup.

The MIASF took things to the next level in 2011 when it was a driving force behind the formation of the Marine Industry Cares Foundation that now co-sponsors the Waterway Cleanup and much more. The Marine Industry Cares Foundation was conceived to connect the marine industry with the local community through activities that can create lasting memories and change lives.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Marine Industry Cares Foundation serves as the philanthropic vessel for the marine industry as a whole. The significant impact of the maritime industry — recreational, cruise, and commercial shipping — in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions in total economic value and an immeasurable level of community goodwill.

So it’s no surprise in the last five years, the Marine Industry Cares Foundation has raised more than $750,000 to directly benefit two local charities — Kids In Distress and Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center. Moreover, the Marine Industry Cares Foundation has planned or participated in various community events such as child abuse and neglect awareness campaigns; back-to-school supply drives; food drives; holiday toy drives; and a two-week summer camp introducing high school students to the marine industry called the “Marine Immersion Summer Camp.”

So, tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Coral Ridge Yacht Club, the members of the MIASF deserve to take a bow for their long record of community outreach and their successes in mobilizing the marine industry’s resources, enthusiasm and generosity to develop youth experiences, innovative initiatives and support for other organizations dedicated to the success of families.

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