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Couple cleans up campus grounds

Friday, February 29, 2008  
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By Katy King

The campus grounds are looking their best thanks to the kindness of an elderly couple. Dale and Neva Meredith, a retired couple who live just around the block, have decided to make it their mission to help clean up the neighboring university.

Every morning around 6 a.m. the Merediths set out for an early walk around campus for exercise.

About two years ago, the couple began to notice trash along their route, and since then, they have brought along trash sacks to pick up the litter.

"We've been walking around there for 20 years," Dale said. "[Neva] suggested a while back that it might be a good thing for us to do because we saw so much trash around."

The Kansas natives moved into the neighborhood 30 years ago after Dale was transferred to Oklahoma while working for Phillips Petroleum Company.

They consider Oklahoma Christian University a fine place.

"I think [the university] is well done," Dale said. "The students are always nice and polite as they jog by. They thank us for picking up trash."

Department of History and Political Science Chair John Maple has lived near the Merediths for 24 years and recognizes them as good neighbors.

"It was just their initiative. They saw the litter along the campus road and decided to do something about it. That is very much like them," Maple said. "No one spoke to them about it. They just did it on their own."

Maple and his wife Connie also walk the campus in the mornings and were inspired by the Merediths willingness to serve.

Maple and his wife also notice the trash around campus.

We pick up trash and put it in the trash cans as well," Maple said. "It certainly makes the campus look better both to the visitors and all of us students, faculty and staff."

President Mike O'Neal has acknowledged the Merediths as being vibrant and active servants of the community.

"They are the salt of the earth kind of people that quietly go about doing good," O'Neal said. "They love this campus and love its people."

The Merediths have never been recognized for their contribution to the university and were surprised to hear so many have noticed their efforts.

"Those are the kind of people that I think Jesus would pick out and honor – humble servants doing their work, not seeking recognition," O'Neal said. "[They are] just satisfied to do things behind the scenes. We, as Christians, don't often enough acknowledge those types of people."

Maple admires the couple for their initiative in taking on this service.

"They certainly didn't expect any recognition. They've gotten it, but that's not why they do it," Maple said. "They just saw a need in an area where they could do service. They just have that kind of heart."

The Merediths sometimes observe the items being discarded around campus.

From full boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to cigarette packs, the trash found on campus is always a surprise.

Dale and Neva recalled an instance when they saw a student's car completely covered in Post-it notes.

They laughed but were worried about how many they would be collecting from the grounds the following morning. Luckily, the student had taken care of the prank before the Post-its were scattered around campus.

"It makes me want to be more aware of the invisible people that bless our lives," O'Neal said. "It makes me want to not make their job harder by being sloppy and lazy and throwing things around, contributing to those kinds of problems." 

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