Thousands of people who enjoyed the area's beaches and waterways all summer gave a little something back Saturday as they devoted part of their day to the 10th annual Great Lakes Beach Sweep.
The cleanup along the beaches and in the water yielded three cars pulled from Buffalo Harbor -- none containing bodies, we're happy to report.
Under the supervision of the Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team, 53 divers and 25 support personnel combed the waters of the slip near The Pier restaurant and found all manner of junk.
The count included 1,000 cans, 600 glass bottles, 225 plastic bottles, eight tires, an anchor, a bed frame and 15 pieces of assorted clothing, including underwear.
Fifteen-year-old Kristie Craig of Hamburg has only been diving a few months and was glad to don wet suit and fins "to help the environment and the fish."
Among the vehicles recovered was the rusted hulk of what appeared to be a Chevrolet Suburban
that had been home to thousands of zebra mussels.
Detective William Yates of the Underwater Recovery Team said police would run computer checks on the vehicles in an attempt to determine their origin.
Other divers were in other parts of the lake and harbor, including at the foot of Ontario Street.
An estimated 2,000 volunteers were at work along 95 miles of Lake Erie shoreline plus other inland locations, according to Sharen Trembath of Evans, Lake Erie coordinator of the Great Lakes Beach Sweep.
The annual cleanup is held in conjunction with the Center for Marine Conservation as part of its celebration of "Coast Weeks."
On Woodlawn Beach in Hamburg, 101 people signed up to lend a hand, including eight members of the Morrow family of Hamburg.
"I just think it's really important to teach the kids to appreciate the environment and keep it clean," said Mary Morrow as two young nieces dragged a plastic trash bag about and collected litter.
Her mother, Arlene, and brother, Jim, were tugging on what appeared to be the remains of a tent that had been buried on the beach.
"I remember last year it was cold and rainy so this year is a joy," said Jim Morrow.
Arlene Morrow, an artist, said the beach "is a treasure trove" of shells and driftwood she uses in her work.
Three generations of the McCarthy family of Orchard Park paused to consider that they were spending their time picking up the trash left by others.
"It's a shame the way people toss around their garbage," said Merry Radtke, who was working with her mother, Bernadette McCarthy and daughter, Jami Radtke.
The Women's Association of the Buffalo Power Squadron boating group also was out in force.
"We get a lot of enjoyment out of the beaches and water, so this is the least we can do," said Nancy Wallace of Cheektowaga.