How one woman started a movement devoted to making Ardmore sparkle
Margaret Ward has one goal for the city of Ardmore, and every day she does her part to achieve the goal.
“There is no reason that Ardmore cannot be the cleanest town — not only in Oklahoma — but in the whole country,” Ward said. In addition to all of her efforts to pick up litter, she also created an entire organization, ACT or Ardmore Clean Team, to inspire others.
A native Ardmoreite, Ward spent 20 years in Oklahoma City where she worked as a professional golfer and golf instructor before returning to the area. She originally lived out in the country, residing and working at the Daube Ranch. She then moved in to town to work as building manager at the Daube Company. In spite of having an office job, she still loves the outdoors. In fact, her love of the outdoors is part of why she began her quest to keep things clean.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who sees the litter,” Ward said. “I’ll look out into a beautiful field and if there is one piece of trash out there my eye goes right to it. When I’m driving down the road, I can’t help but see all the trash.” She pointed out that many people do not share this trait and simply don’t see the garbage they pass during their daily lives. This is one of the reasons behind beginning ACT just under two years ago.
“I just wanted to improve my little corner of the world and raise awareness to other people,” Ward said. To help spread awareness she encourages members of ACT to post photos of the litter they collect on social media.
“I really wish they would post more photos because then their friends see it and realize we have a problem,” Ward said. “But if they’re not posting it. nobody sees it.” People did get a chance to see all the litter last September when ACT implemented the Dash 4 Trash event. During Dash 4 Trash people chose an area to clean, then showed off all the litter they had collected.
“I was so worried that nobody would show up and then we ended up with 150 people and a massive amount of trash,” Ward said. “All the stuff they brought back we piled into a mound so we could visualize the impact we made,” Ward said. “The best part was how much fun it was! Everyone had fun and it wasn’t drudgery.” In fact, Dash 4 Trash was such a great success, ACT is bringing it back this October, and Ward says this year’s event is going to be even bigger and better than last.
Participants will be provided lunch and entered into a drawing to win prizes. Two full-size Yeti coolers will be given away as well as gift certificates to local establishments. One of the key differences this year is that ACT will be buying the gift certificates thanks to funds provided by the Ardmore Beautification Council as opposed to asking for donations.
“I want to support not only picking up the litter and letting the town have some fun doing it, but I also want to support our local merchants,” Ward said. “When you do things like that, it creates good will all over town.”
Ward only has one request for those who wish to attend this year’s event, that is to submit an entry form in advance of the event. This will give ACT a headcount so they will know how much food they need to buy for lunch.
“I just want to make sure everyone gets something to eat,” Ward said.
In addition to the Dash 4 Trash, ACT recently spent three weeks cleaning up the streets of downtown Ardmore. Every morning she and group member Phillip Capshaw would work on picking up litter and killing the weeds that were poking their way through the sidewalks. Several other community members joined in the efforts and eventually 4 miles of downtown streets were clean and clear of weeds.
When not doing large projects like Dash 4 Trash and the downtown cleanup, ACT members work on smaller tasks. This can be done either solo or with a small group, and Ward herself is almost always doing something. In fact, the day of this interview she spent her lunch hour crushing cans from the new recycling bins ACT placed at Lakeview Golf Course.
“I don’t always do that, but I was sitting there thinking why are you just sitting around,” Ward said. So she crushed the cans and took the time to pull the tabs off to give to the Ronald McDonald House.