This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

More than a half-million volunteers took part in an international crusade to comb the world's shorelines for cigarette butts, bottle caps and any other trash they could find.

The International Coastal Cleanup is in its 14th year. Participants collected more than 10 million pieces of trash along more than 12,000 miles of shoreline in 70 countries.

Sponsored by the Center for Marine Conservation and several other nonprofit groups and corporate sponsors, the campaign is a one-day attempt to improve conditions on vital waterfronts.

Cigarette butts are by far the most common item, with exactly 1,616,841 picked up and counted in last year's cleanup. They were followed in numbers by food wrappers, plastic pieces, bottle caps and shards of glass.

Last year, the biggest volunteer corps from any one country was in the Philippines, where nearly 300,000 people took part in the cleanup. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines has among the longest shorelines.

The United States had more than 150,000 volunteers.

"From coast to coast and around every major body of water, we have a debris problem," said Seba Sheavly, director of the Center for Marine Conservation's marine debris program.

Sheavly planned to be among the volunteers, bags in hand, at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Bad weather associated with Hurricane Floyd affected some plans, but thousands of volunteers were ready to go, she said.

"After you've lugged bags of trash and logged every single piece, you begin to realize that every piece of trash has a person's face on it," Sheavly said.

About 20,000 divers joined to clean up offshore debris, with major underwater efforts in the United States, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Australia, Venezuela and El Salvador.

Globally, less than 20 percent of shore debris clearly comes from the water. The bulk appears to come from land sources, Sheavly said.

Part of the effort is counting the trash. Volunteers carry cards to record their collections, which will be compiled and used for studies of how to combat the problem year-round.

The cards include a space for peculiar stuff.

Random items reported include a typewriter in New Zealand, a plunger in Belize and umbrellas in Britain.

QUIZ: TRUE OR FALSE?

1. The annual International Coastal Cleanup is a one-day effort to remove trash from the world's shorelines.

2. Some of the longest waterfronts are found in the islands of the Philippines.

3. Each year, more than a million people volunteer to pick up debris (litter) from beaches in 70 countries.

4. About 20,000 divers took part is this year's international crusade.

5. Event participants keep records of the number of objects they collect.

6. Plastic wrap and glass cups are two of the most frequently discovered items.

7. The most unusual piece of trash picked up in last year's cleanup was a discarded cigarette.

8. Program director Seba Sheavly says a picture of a face can be found on every piece of debris.

9. Cleanup crews get paid for each bag of garbage they lug to the collection centers.

10. Beachcombers gathered about 10 million pieces of trash.

Bonus: There are twice as many volunteers from the United States than from any other country.

ANSWER KEY:

1. True, 2. True, 3. False, 4. True, 5. True, 6. False, 7. False, 8. False, 9. False, 10. True, Bonus: False