Group pulls in 14K in one night to help Savannah River

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News 12 11pm /Saturday, March 8, 2014

Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus
Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus. (WRDW-TV / March 15, 2012)

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- The Savannah Riverkeeper had a party Saturday Night.

Roast on the River is one of the largest fundraisers for the group.

"I'm here to support it and it's also a great party," said one of the hundreds that came to check out The Roast on the River.

The roast is one of the largest fundraisers for the Savannah Riverkeeper--and the director, Tonya Bonitatibus, said it's a success.

"We got about 300 right now and we'll see if they are still coming in. We are capping it at 400," she said.

Before the sun went down volunteers started cleaning oysters and making chili--all to pull in people to help raise money and awareness.

"The Savannah River unfortunately does qualify as the 4th most toxic river in the United States," Bonitatibus said.

She says most of the pollution is caused below Augusta--but either way it's something everyone should care about.

"Not only does it give us our drinking water, it provides us our jobs. It's the life blood of our community," said Bonitatibus.

She also said Plant Voglte and SRS are some of the industries that rely on the river, but business isn't the only one benefiting from the waters--so are athletes.

"Well, I swim in it because I train for triathlons in it," Carrie Brooks said.

Brooks supports the Riverkeeper's cause and says everyone should too because pollution could take it away.

"When it's not here anymore they will realize it's a good resource that was spoiled, so we want to protect it and make sure it's here for a long time," she said.

The money raised will go towards helping clean up efforts and a new learning center the group is building soon. But to pull in folks Saturday night-- Bonitatibus used the stomach to reach into wallets.

"18 bushels of oysters, 125 lbs of shrimp, 125 lbs of sausage," she said.

The group raised about $14,000 Saturday night.

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