Gulfport resident Dawn Fisher, 85, has made it her mission to collect trash around the city.
“I’ve been picking litter around town for 15 to 20 years,” said Fisher. “I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
But Fisher also volunteers another valuable service for the city: filling the area’s pet waste bag dispensers with plastic grocery and newspaper bags.
The city of Gulfport supplied pet waste bags in the past, filling the dispensers with rolls of small, black bags. Fisher says local teens used the rolls of bags for vandalism, so the city discontinued their supply.
While out picking up trash in downtown Gulfport and around the beach, she noticed the dispensers were often without bags. That’s when she decided to add filling the dispensers to her daily cleanup routine.
“I just got into doing it because I noticed they were empty and I’m there anyway, picking up litter every day,” said Fisher.
But as a snowbird, Fisher will soon be heading to a cabin in Michigan for the summer, leaving the dispensers empty and pet waste potentially left on the ground. A community problem needs a community response, right?
That’s what her spouse, Cathy Kaiser, thought. On April 30, she took to the internet, posting on Facebook in a group called Gulfport News and Views.
“Hi All, I need your help,” she wrote. “My spouse, Dawn Fisher goes out every day with plastic bags that our condo collects for her and fills the dog boxes along Shore Blvd and up Beach Blvd…. Could you do her a favor and fill up the dog boxes in Veterans Park, Clymer Park and up and down Beach and Shore Blvds?”
It didn’t take long for Facebook users to respond.
“Clymer is literally across the street from our house on Beach. I’ll start filling those boxes. I was getting ready to recycle a LOT of bags so this is better,” wrote Denise Cinq-Mars Moseley.
“I have some new biodegradable bags I will stuff in the boxes along Beach Blvd,” wrote Terry Foster.
Some group members shared that they were already donating old bags to the recreation center and dropping them off to the parks and recreation department at city hall. Other group members simply offered praise.
“Thank you for doing that – we dog walkers sincerely appreciate you,” replied Diane Griffith.
Although Fisher doesn’t have any pets currently (she lives in a no-pets-allowed Town Shores condo with her wife), she’s happy to help keep Gulfport clean, both from trash and pet waste. After the energetic response she experienced in the News and Views group, she posted about it May 4 on Facebook.
“A big thank you to all the bags showing up in the dog boxes. You who took your time to put the bags out are truly appreciated!”
To get involved in bag donation, residents can stuff the dispensers themselves or bring the bags to Gulfport City Hall, 2401 53rd St. S., where staff will give them to the parks and recreation department for dispenser distribution.