Sikeston resident Mildred Wilson isn't performing mandatory community service. She is just trying to keep her neighborhood clean and free of litter.
"I can't stand trash, even if it's just a little. I think that if you are going to live someplace, you need to keep it clean," she said. "It doesn't matter where you live, you should still take pride in your community."
So around 6:30 every morning, Wilson leaves her house, garbage bag in hand, and picks up trash along the road. She doesn't pick up along the entire street every day, but does clean up her own block at least once a day. Once a week, she picks up along the entire street, which she said is about five blocks. At times, she tidies along side streets as well.
"Some days are worse than others," she said. "But I usually fill up a 30-gallon trash bag each week." Most of the trash she finds are bottles, cans and empty packs of cigarettes.
"When you live close to a store, you have more trash along the street," Wilson said, gesturing to the business down the street. She suggested that motorists throw out trash while driving down the road, without even thinking.
Not only is the trash unbecoming to the neighborhood, Wilson views it as a potential safety hazard. "There are lots of glass beer bottles," she remarked. "Kids always want to break it against a rock. The shattered glass could cut someone's foot or cause a flat tire."
It is not uncommon for Wilson to find full cans discarded along the road, often alcohol. Sometimes they have a sharp ridge where the tab was pulled off. This worries Wilson, who fears that the children will either cut their lips or consume the alcohol.
Wilson's husband, Farrell, often jokes that a sign should be put on their street, similar to those on highways, saying that the street is kept clean by Mildred Wilson. Wilson, ever so humble, said: "it's nothing to me." In fact, she never even expected anyone outside of her neighborhood to notice.
It's no big chore for Wilson, who said that she enjoys being outside. Picking up trash is a good form of exercise that keeps her in shape. "I don't have to walk my treadmill as long," she chuckled.
As long as she has been picking up trash, no one has ever stopped to help Wilson. But, she is quick to point out that since she does it so early in the morning, a lot of people are probably still in bed sleeping or getting ready for their day.
There are also some people who just refuse to help clean up. "I think that people think, it's not my trash, I didn't put it there, so I'm not picking it up," she remarked.
One time, she recalled a bus driver asked her how to keep the school kids from littering at the bus stop. But the bus stop doesn't have a lot of litter. "There's some trash there," she said. "But most of the trash isn't from people who live on Jaycee. It comes from people who drive up and down the street."
A simple neighborhood plan to keep trash picked up was provided by Wilson. She thinks that if one person on each block would pick up trash, it would be easy to keep streets clean.
Wilson encouraged others to "be courteous and put your trash in a place meant for it." For people on the go, keep a bag in the car to collect trash then throw it in a trash can, to avoid littering, she suggested.
Wilson suggested that people speak up to their fellow passengers. "You might be the one who makes others quit," she said. "Even if they don't, you know that you didn't add to the mess."