GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) – It was a mystery for weeks in a Fox Valley neighborhood. On garbage days, bins appeared back at their garages. One family maybe thought it was a fluke.
Melody Luttenegger and her family are new to Stewart Avenue in Grand Chute.
“We had just moved here in November. The place had been vacant for three years,” she said.
That’s when she noticed something peculiar began to happen.
“It was so strange because all of a sudden our garbage cans were just showing up.”
It happened again.
“We have such a long driveway and I thought maybe the garbage company is bringing our garbage,” she told Local 5’s Barrett Tryon.
“I asked my husband, and he’s like, ‘no, I’m not bringing the garbage cans up,’ ” she said.
“Mason, we’re gonna figure out who this is.” Mason is her 9-month-old son, who went on the hunt with his mom to figure out what was happening.
Eventually, Luttenegger did figure out who it was.
“It was the day before Christmas Eve,” she said. “And I got a little gift for (them). Me and Mason came out and stood there, waiting and waiting.”
Like clockwork, the man came up the drive at 8:21 a.m.
“So this old guy comes up with our garbage cans.”
The “mystery” garbage man turns out to be Dick Pontzloff, a 75-year-old who lives a few streets over.
“When I retired, I got sick of doing nothing, so I started going around and picking up garbage cans. Not just certain ones, everyone’s,” he said.
He prefers to just be called “Dick.” And he’s not afraid of the cold.
“I’ve been from Wisconsin most of my life. I’ve always loved winter,” he said. Even at -2 degrees on a Thursday morning in January. “It’s not that bad,” he joked.
He’s riding his bike taking the trash in, from house to house.
We asked if he was cold, as icicles formed on his brow. “I put this mask on because it makes your face nice and warm. That’s the reason I’m wearing it. I don’t normally wear it,” he laughed again.
He’s a quiet guy, with a message that’s loud and clear.
“Just be nice to all people,” he said. “It’s just what you gotta do. Just think if you were at home and you needed someone for help.”
A small act of kindness, that’s a huge deal every Thursday morning for people who live on this two-mile stretch of road.
“For someone random to just do that, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Luttenegger. “You know the kindness that strangers give is an unexplainable feeling. And he doesn’t even realize how nice of a gesture it is and how much we appreciate it.”
After an hour or so, Dick tightens up his laces and he’s on his way.
If you’re wondering, he does double-duty. He says he also likes to help out on recycling days. As for why he does it, he simply says he “enjoys the exercise.”