KIMBERLY, Wis. - The tranquil waters of the Fox River. They're beautiful, peaceful and home to fish and wildlife, but humans have left their mark.
"We find lots of plastic, cans, bottles," explained Kelly Reyer.
You name it, they've discovered it dumped in, or around, the Fox and Wolf rivers.
"Somebody found an entire entertainment center one year along with the TV," said Reyer. "I feel like the garbage pollution in our waterways, it upsets a lot of people and they want to do something about it."
Reyer is the Outreach Coordinator with the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance. The non-profit organization's mission is to protect, restore and improve the Fox-Wolf river basin. For the past five years, right around Earth Day, the group has held a community cleanup day. Volunteers from young to old, armed with grabbing tools and protective gloves, remove trash and debris that threaten our waterways and our health. Reyer said cigarettes are the most common find.
"A lot of people have a misconception that cigarette butts are just paper and cotton, but the filters are actually a type of plastic, cellulose acetate, which can take up to 10 years to break down in our environment."
To help protect our planet, Darcie Morin serves as the site leader for cleanup day at Sunset Park in Kimberly.
"I want the world to last a really long time, so if I can instill this in every generation to come, then I feel like I'm doing my part," she explained.
Morin's involvement began three years ago through her daughter Addison's Girl Scout troop.
"We come every year. We get really excited about it. Everyone gets T-shirts. We get this great party afterward. It's a really great way to bring the community together."
8-year-old Addison agrees.
"Last year, I found a lot of people I didn't know and I made friends with them."
This year, more than 50 sites from Green Bay to Fond du Lac, New London and Shiocton are targeted for the 6th annual cleanup day. The event has grown from 100 volunteers to about 1,000.
"I'm so proud of all these people that get excited about cleaning up, that come back year after year, that ask me, 'Hey, when are we doing this clean-up?,' or, 'Hey, can we do another one?' It really makes me feel good."
Morin and her children are anxious to get back at it.
"When a community comes together, whether it be 10 people or 50 to clean this area up, it makes your heart happy."
She takes pride in knowing they're doing their part to protect our precious natural resources.
Clean-up day is April 21st. It begins at 9:00am. A picnic is held afterwards at Appleton's Pierce Park. There's a free lunch, music, bounce houses and prizes. It's a way for the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance to thank the volunteers.
Right now, there is a great need for volunteers to clean-up the Fond du Lac sites.
Click here to register to volunteer at any of the sites.