It was a hot and sunny afternoon earlier this month when 14 OKC-Go scholarship students took to the streets to spruce up their community. The OCCC students spent three hours cleaning trash from the roadsides along May Avenue, from SW 74 Street to SW 84.
Their service was part of Adopt-A-Street program, sponsored by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, said Jill Lindblad, Service Learning and Student Life programs coordinator.
While students were picking up trash, people passing by would sound their horns and wave to students, to let them know of their good work. Others would drive by slowly and ask the students what this was for.
Students were given an orange vest, a plastic bag and plastic gloves for their safety before beginning the cleaning service.
As the group walked along, trash started to be more and more noticeable.
Students were surprised as they passed by a gas station and saw how much trash was around, knowing there were trash cans where people could throw it in.
Cigarette butts proved to be the most plentiful item.
“All you see was more cigarette butts, more than bottles, trash or anything else,” said student Celese Jones. “It was ridiculous.”
Other trash items were gum wrappers, straws, glass, vehicle parts, a condom pack, one sock, a fork, a needle, a credit card, cigarette packs with matches, and more cigarette butts.
Afterwards the group gathered in the Student Life Center for a review with Lindblad. She talked about how littering damages the planet.
“Some states don’t have enough funding and taxes to clean up litter,” Lindblad said. “One example is Pennsylvania; they don’t have tax money to help clean up the road field.
“Another thing you might not be aware of is that in the oceans, 50 miles or 100 miles away from land, is considered basically nobody’s property,” she said, “which means it’s not regulated.
“There are some countries, and the United States has been at fault sometimes for this as well, actually dump in the ocean,” Lindblad said. “And all this trash ends up washing up.”
After completing their service and Lindblad’s review, the group was rewarded with a snack of veggies, fresh fruit, cookies, lemonade and cold water.
“I’ve never done community service before,” Jones said. “It was good, I liked it.”
OKC-Go is a scholarship program sponsored by OCCC for graduates of Oklahoma City public high schools and Western Heights High School. One criteria for receiving the funding is that students participate in 12 hours of community service per semester, said Allyson Stell, OCCC admissions adviser.
More service events will take place in upcoming weeks. Students interested in helping the community or wishing to complete service hours can find dates and sign up at www.occc.campusgroups.com or call 405-682-7523.