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Campaign Diaries-Thelma Neff

As part of our election coverage, KSMU brings you Campaign Diaries - a series of stories profiling local individuals of all political persuasions who are working, volunteering and participating in campaigns throughout the Ozarks. KSMU'S Katie Hummel spent the day with a campaign volunteer at the Ozark Empire Fair. Her name is Thelma Neff and this is her story.

IN A BOOTH FAR BACK IN A CORNER, A WOMAN SITS WEARING A RED, WHITE AND BLUE BLOUSE.

HER BLOUSE MATCHES THE HOMEMADE TABLECLOTHS DECORATED WITH RED, WHITE AND BLUE STARS AND STRIPES.

SURROUNDING HER ARE VARIOUS SIGNS PROMOTING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN MISSOURI.

THEY'RE STUCK IN HOMEMADE FLOWER POTS DECORATED WITH MORE FLAGS AND STARS.

ABOVE HER, A HUGE SIGN READS: SAVE AMERICA, VOTE REPUBLICAN

SHE'S THELMA NEFF AND SHE'S A DIEHARD REPUBLICAN. (VOLUNTEER?)

THELMA HAS BEEN VOLUNTEERING FOR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1972.

SHE SAYS THAT'S WHEN THE BUG FIRST BIT HER.

BUT IT'S MORE THAN POLITICAL BUGS THAT GIVE THIS VOLUNTEER BITES.

THELMA RECALLS ONE OF HER FIRST DOOR-TO-DOOR CAMPAIGNS.

AND EVEN THOUGH SHE HASN'T HAD ANY DOG BITES THIS ELECTION YEAR, AS A MEMBER OF THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE MISSOURI REPUBLICAN PARTY, SHE'S STILL BEEN PRETTY BUSY.

BUT WHY DOES THELMA DO IT?

AND THERE'S ALSO THE REWARDS THAT COME FROM DOING THIS KIND OF WORK.

AND STANDING RIGHT BESIDE THELMA, WORKING WITH HER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, IS HER 18 YEAR OLD GRANDDAUGHTER, CHELSEA NEFF.

CHELSEA SAYS SHE'S PROUD OF HER GRANDMOTHER AND ALL THE WORK SHE DOES.

BUT THELMA SAYS SHE DOESN'T NEED OR WANT THE RECOGNITION.

IN FACT, THELMA SAYS IT'S ALMOST TIME TO STEP ASIDE AND LET YOUNGER PEOPLE DO THE WORK SHE'S BEEN DOING FOR YEARS.

BUT WHEN THELMA DOES DECIDE TO HANG UP HER CAMPAIGN BUTTONS, SHE'LL TAKE WITH HER THE THINGS SHE'S LEARNED ALONG THE WAY.

AND AT LEAST UNTIL NOVEMBER 2, THELMA NEFF WILL GO ON CAMPAIGNING LIKE SHE DID RECENTLY AT THE OZARK EMPIRE FAIR.