White Pine residents take part in first-ever town clean-up

Garbage tossed in dumpsters, while shrubs and cut trees taken to local fire department’s burning location
Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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WHITE PINE, Mich. (WLUC) - Longtime friends Wendy Gouin and Jill Kolehmainen-Senkerik, who have lived in the small town of White Pine for years, wanted to do something to make their area more neat.

In late May, they decided to put together a clean-up effort and raise funds for a dumpster. Over the last three weeks, they received more than $7,000.

“The old White Pine High School alumni started sending in money,” said Gouin. “Businesses started giving us money. People that just moved to the area would just stop us and hand us money.”

The fundraising effort and a $200 community scholarship from the Portage Health Foundation helped get at least two dumpsters placed at the Konteka Black Bear Resort for Saturday’s first-ever White Pine Clean-Up.

One of the helpers was Gouin’s husband, Gary, who was amazed at the turnout.

“I would say 15-20 residents showed up,” he said. “As well as tractors, trailers, pickup trucks, yard equipment, supplies, you name it. It’s just amazing to see everybody come together, especially during this time when friends and neighbors want to help each other out and get back to normal.”

Volunteers were picking up garbage, then tossing it into the dumpsters. Shrubs and cut trees were also collected and taken to the White Pine Fire Department’s burning location.

For next year’s clean-up, the organizers hope to raise enough money for a dumpster and a new ‘Konteka’ sign. As for Saturday, they were thrilled to see some of their old high school friends and other alumni reunite to help clean the town.

“Some came from lower Michigan just to help,” Kolehmainen-Senkerik stated. “You can’t really put it into words. We have longtime White Pine roots, and it’s really heartwarming.”

The organizers hope to hold the clean-up for many years in an effort to make their longtime home even brighter and more beautiful.

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