Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cleaning Up Trash

     It was a beautiful Spring day today so I decided it would be a good to spend some time outdoors cleaning up trash from a playground.  I had arranged to play golf with some friends mid-morning, and since I would be passing an area park on my way home from the course, I figured that would be as good a place as any for my act of kindness.  Knowing this was my afternoon plan, I threw a pair of work gloves and a plastic trash bag into my car as I headed out.
     When I pulled into the playground parking lot and got out of my car, the first thing I noticed was some loose change lying on the ground.  I picked up the change and put it in my pocket, figuring if I found the right young person, I could give it to them as a surprise treat.  With my gloves on and my bag in hand, I began to work my way through the parking lot toward the playground, picking up trash as I walked.
     It's surprising that even an area that looks reasonably clean at first glance is often strewn with more trash than you can imagine.  When you're there to clean it up, you start to notice it everywhere you look.  I picked up tons of empty bottles, cigarette butts, hamburger wrappers, loose papers, straws, bottle caps and a variety of other discarded items.  It truly is hard to imagine how people can simply toss their trash on the ground, especially when there are lots of garbage cans distributed throughout the entire park.  Regardless, I've worked hard to refrain from judgments as I do my acts of kindness and today was no exception.  Other than that brief thought which was more curiosity than judgment, I just focused on picking up what was there.  I probably spent 45-60 minutes cleaning up and filled most of a garbage bag.
     By the way, I did find a cute young girl playing on the seesaw to whom I offered the loose change.  She was so happy to accept it.  The best thing though, was that 20 minutes later she brought me some trash that she had picked up to be thrown into my bag!  Perhaps my simple example had a meaningful impact on her.

Incidentally, my project has received some nice coverage lately.  For those who may not have seen the article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday, here's a link to it.  Also, the project was featured on CBS Eyewitness News this evening. Here's a link to that piece.

1 comment:

  1. It's so nice to find someone else who is trying to become a "gentle" soul. I, too, am an "angel" with Soldier's Angels. I have been "adopting" soldiers for about 4 years now. I have some health issues right now so it isn't easy for me to get out and do intentional acts of kindness every day but I try to do things from home that still helps others. I have a "foster child" in Guatemala through Food for the Poor and I contribute to a homeless shelter in downtown Philly: Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. I am a coupon diva so I look for great bargains in food that I can then donate to our local food bank in Bensalem, PA. I am not telling you all this to pat myself on the back, far from it. I don't even like people to really know what I'm doing but I wanted you to know there are others like you. Keep up the great work.
    Denise Brennan