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franklin county times

A clear conscience, after all these years

By Staff
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT – Eris Culpepper, left, holds a small Christmas bookmark in the shape of a pair of mittens he took from Merrehope as a sixth grader, as Merrehope volunteer Neeta Sanders looks on. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
Dec. 6, 2002
In 1972, Eris Culpepper was a sixth-grader from Whynot Academy on a field trip to Merrehope.
The class was looking at the Trees of Christmas when Culpepper noticed a small Christmas bookmark in the shape of a pair of mittens. He picked it up, but didn't have any money to pay for it. He put it in his pocket.
Years later, Culpepper graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Air Force. He moved from Meridian to Louisiana and was even stationed in England for a time.
Culpepper returned home in June to live with his parents. Going through boxes at his parents' home, he found the small Christmas trinket and decided he would do the right thing by returning to Merrehope to pay for it.
Culpepper not only paid for the trinket, he also made a donation to the Save Merrehope for Me campaign and donated a few of his pieces of artwork to the gift shop to sell.
The lesson? It's never too late.