Mount Olive Now

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October 3, 2023 10:33 am

Trojans volunteer at annual town clean-up

MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive track and field and cross country programs recently volunteered at the fifth annual Town Clean-up hosted in Mount Olive over the weekend.

The event was introduced after the coaching staff communicated with two town officials, Jammie Royall and Mitchell Davis, about doing a community service project involving the entire town, not just the campus. After speaking with former Mayor Joe Scott, the Trojans quickly found out the North Carolina Department of Transportation does a biannual littler sweep in April and September. With the help of NCDOT, the teams were supplied with gloves, safety vests, and plenty of trash bags.

“I am glad we were able to continue this tradition for our community! We get so much support from our university and this town, so we want to give back in any way possible,” said director of cross country and track and field head coach Earl Graves. “Coach Potter does an excellent job coordinating this event with the town officials every year. Our student-athletes take great pride in this town and want to keep it beautiful. This is truly a team/family effort. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

After settling on entry points throughout the town, student-athletes are dropped off in groups and collect trash on their way back to campus. Coaches and town officials help to monitor the groups during the event while supplying them with water and extra bags. The students do not just look for trash, they also remove tree limbs and other debris, while having a chance to connect with the local community that appreciates their hard work.

“It makes us coaches proud to provide an opportunity for our team to impact our town on such a high level,” said associate track and field head coach Justin Potter. Hearing our student-athletes talk about their interactions with the citizens, and all the thanks or waves they receive truly makes me smile. We are making our town a better place!”

Once the student-athletes return to campus, the town provides them with pizza and drinks as a thank you. During that time, they have a chance to bond and reflect on their impact on the community.

“The town clean-up is important to the track and field and cross country teams. It is an excellent opportunity for us to show support for our community that they show for us all the time in return,” said senior Mary Brigid Keck. “It is a fantastic team-building experience and a great way to give back!”

“I think the town clean-up is significant, and I feel like it is a great way to do something positive,” said sophomore Jaleel Hamlett. It is a good opportunity to get to know each other and grow as a team and a community. For example, this year we were cleaning up, and people were offering us water bottles and saying thank you, and being appreciative of what we were doing. So, all around I believe that it is a great thing to do and an opportunity to help not just our community, but for us grow as individuals.”

— University of Mount Olive athletics