HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. – Three and a half years ago a handful of folks bumped into each other while kayaking in Central Florida and decided to create a Facebook page where they could communicate about future meet-ups. Today the group, known as the Kayak Junkies of Central Florida, has grown to include over 30,000 members from all over the state and serves as a go-to resource for all things kayaking/paddle board related.
Recognizing the potential to do good with the platform that has evolved entirely through word-of-mouth, the group’s current administrators have been hosting charity paddles and themed events focused on community improvement for the past few years. Some of the most successful events have included Toys for Tots paddles with hundreds of kayakers hitting the waterways after donating thousands of toys for underprivileged children in Florida. Paddling with Pets garnered supplies and brought awareness to rescue and shelter pets, and there have been multiple limited edition group sticker sales, with all profits benefiting organizations such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism Awareness, and the American Heart Association.
This Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, the Kayak Junkies of Central Florida will be hitting the water again for a great cause. Honoring one of its longest participating members, Jo Carver of Fort White, the group will paddle down a section of the Santa Fe River for a major clean-up paddle event. Jo Carver is a larger-than-life advocate for Florida waterways, often hosting river clean-ups throughout Alachua, Columbia, and Gilchrist counties. Partnering with Current Problems, Trail Trash Outdoors, Adopt-A-Creek, and Paddles Up Adventures, more than 60 Kayak Junkies of Central Florida members will kayak a stretch of the Santa Fe River between Poe Springs in Alachua County and the Gilchrist County Santa Fe River Park (47 Bridge), picking up any and all trash they find along the way. The group has a goal of 1,000 lbs of trash, although event organizer and group administrator Tanya Libby expects they will easily double that goal.
The Facebook group, which only requires a promise to help keep Florida waterways clean, encourages anyone who enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, or canoeing in Florida to check them out on Facebook and join in on the fun!
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