83-year-old woman walks miles daily to pick up litter
'If you stop throwing trash, I've made a point,' Ms. Deane says
OVIEDO, Fla. – Every day -- rain, shine, or cold -- an 83-year-old woman spends her mornings slowly trudging down the sidewalks of Red Bug Lake Road in Oviedo.
Ms. Deane, as she's affectionately known by her fellow residents of the The Tremont senior center, leaves her home around 8 a.m. daily and spends hours walking for miles.
In her right hand is a plastic-grabbing device, a set of reaching tongs.
When she spots a cigarette butt, plastic bottle or wrapper, she stops -- but only to pick up the trash.
"I find it annoying that people don't take care of everyone's property," she said. "People should enjoy a nice-looking street."
Ms. Deane walks west on Red Bug in the morning to the Willa Springs shopping center and east back to the Tremont by mid-day.
Wednesday morning, she was wearing her heavy coat and signature big-brimmed hat to keep warm and keep the sun off her face.
"Cold days are harder," Ms. Deane said.
In the summer, she drips with sweat.
And the older she gets, the slower she walks.
"My problem is the osteoporosis has made me all bent over," Ms. Deane said.
This young-at-heart, tireless octogenarian said she started picking up trash about six months ago.
"I find it enjoyable because at least it accomplishes something," she said.
Ms. Deane lost her husband four years ago and moved into the Tremont two years ago. Picking up trash keeps her busy, she said.
Sometimes she brings back large bags full of trash and always sorts the recyclables into the recycling dumpster at the Tremont.
And she never asks for help.
"She goes out every morning and sometimes she's in the rain and people try and pick her up and she doesn't want to be stopped in the rain," said Lori McAfee, manager at The Tremont.
McAfee said Ms. Deane is a blessing.
"Because of the things she does and her compassion for people and just caring about the neighborhood and the community, period."
She believes she's gotten some results on crime because the littering has slowed. She believes it's because people see her along the side of the six lanes of Red Bug Lake Road.
"I just don't feel like I go out to be noticed, that's not the reason, it's to go out to (do) something that is good for everybody," Ms. Deane said. "I do hope they will see someone else doing something and think they won't contribute to that anymore."
Ms. Deane admits she enjoys the exercise, but not the noise of traffic. She wears ear plugs.
Now, she's asking for help to get results and spread the word.
She'd much rather walk wherever and whenever she wants, not along Red Bug Lake Road, not in the heat or rain or cold, not every day, and not with a grabbing tool in her right hand.
"If you stop throwing trash, I've made a point," Ms. Deane said. "There wouldn't be anything to pick up. I'd be walking for pleasure in that case."
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