Keeping your own personal belongings clean and organized is one thing. Maintaining an entire neighborhood and keeping it litter-free is a whole other league—a league that 80-year-old Larie McKeever is championing.
Every morning, McKeever puts on her orange vest, grabs a few trash bags, and then her three-mile walk along Golf Coast Road in Crystal Lake, Illinois, commences. Each piece of trash that McKeever finds is picked up and thrown away.
The results are actually amazing!
Good habits don’t come out of thin air, though, so one could say that McKeever’s personal crusade against litter was engraved in her as a young child.
When McKeever was younger, she and her father would walk to her his work every day in Story City, Iowa, and whenever either of them saw a piece of trash, they would go out of their ways to pick it up and throw it away.
“I think about my dad a lot when I’m walking,” Larie told the Northwest Herald. “I think about how proud he would be that I’m still picking up litter, all these years later.”
McKeever’s daily routine started when she would walk with her granddaughter, Kate, in the mornings and drop her off at her middle-school bus. McKeever probably wanted to instill in her granddaughter some of those good habits she had learned from her dad all of those years ago.
Now, her walk has become much more than just a trip to the middle-school bus. Instead, it’s transformed into a commitment that she has made to herself and her community. She even goes on her walk if it starts to rain outside.
“I try to leave the house as soon as it’s light outside,” Larie told the Northwest Herald during an interview. “But if I open my door and it’s pouring down rain, I won’t walk. Then again, if it starts raining while I’m on my walk, I won’t turn back.”
She finds all kinds of things during her walk. Sure, there is a massive amount of useless candy wrappers, but there is also a good amount of state ID’s and credit cards.
As you can guess, McKeever turns all of those in.
As for all of the bottles and cans that McKeever finds, well, she turns those in for recycling money. Instead of keeping the money for herself as a form of compensation for her deeds well done, she donates the money to a local food pantry.
According to Keep America Beautiful-—which is a non-profit organization against litter—-for every mile of roadway in the United States, there are over 6,500 pieces of litter.
McKeever isn’t just helping her community look beautiful by lowering that number, but she is also helping lower the risk of car accidents.
“There’s AAA research that shows that people have accidents as a result of litter,” said Cecile Carson, senior director of affiliate development at Keep America Beautiful
Basically, you can call her Saint McKeever now. Her daily walks don’t only benefit her community, but they also benefit her heart!
McKeever suffers from a heart condition known as aortic stenosis. This means that one of the valves of her heart doesn’t work properly, and her daily three-mile walk is great for her cardiac health.
Even though she is benefiting her heart health through her daily walks, there truly is no real obligation for McKeever to take time out of her morning to pick up all the trash strangers left behind—but she still does it out of the kindness of her heart.
Let’s hope that McKeever’s example doesn’t go unnoticed and that the entire world becomes more like her!