Freeport pretzel pickers work to clean up the city’s image

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FREEPORT – Calling themselves the “Three Amigos,” Kathy Wilken, Sharon Koch and Anne Mason decided three months ago to spend part of their day picking up trash and litter in the Arcade district.

Ten trash bags later, the three women went 9 East Coffee to talk about their efforts and start thinking about how to involve others.

It has become a mission to give back to their community.

The women came up with the name Pretzel Pickers to honor Freeport’s nickname, created a Facebook page then started recruiting members, which Wilken said was not difficult.

What went from number three is now to 83 members who have joined the Facebook page to be part of the community effort. The cleanup takes place for an hour every Thursday morning, with chat and camaraderie afterwards in the familiar cafe in downtown Freeport.

“We started separately. But when I think about how we’ve grown in three months, it makes me happy about the commitment of community members to wanting to see our neighborhoods free of litter and litter, ”said Wilken. “It’s about the pride of the community and helping people feel good about where they live. “

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Holly Edler picks up trash as a member of the Pretzel Pickers on Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Freeport.

Wilken said she and her friends were inspired to take action during a community action cleanup day sponsored by the Greater Freeport Partnership, which has held community cleanup days in the past. GFP provides pretzel collectors with gloves and garbage bags and gets rid of the waste.

“We make it fun and pick garbage day that we post on the Facebook page,” Wilken said. “It’s amazing the kinds of things we find, and on this last day of pickup, the winning find was a crutch. We posted the pic and laughed about it over coffee.

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Holly Edler, who donated her time Thursday, said: “Garbage is my pet peeve. None of us like to look at trash and if we can do our part to make Freeport more beautiful, it may inspire others to do the same.

Koch said people often come out of their homes to thank the men and women who make up the pretzel pickers. Some offer words of praise, others words of warning when the group helps clean up neighborhoods that have higher incidences of violence.

“We are thrilled and excited with the response we get from people who see their neighborhood getting a little brighter,” Koch said. “We are a small army that wants to make a difference. A lot of people are happy that we’re there to help, others honk when they pass, and we get a lot of approvals. “

Wilken said the group will continue to do their part every week, hoping the numbers increase with the volunteers. People can follow them on the Pretzel Pickers Facebook page with information on weekly cleaning zones.

“Sometimes we get suggestions from people in areas of Freeport who need help, and we welcome that information,” Wilken said. “We take our example from the Greater Freeport Partnership. It is about community service, pride and helping others.

The next GFP sponsored community cleanup day will be July 9-18. People are encouraged to participate. Wilken said the Pretzel Pickers will be out in force on these days.

“This is about cleaning up the image of Freeport,” Wilken said.

Jane Lethlean is a freelance correspondent.

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