A toddler in Ascension Parish is stealing hearts, one cold water bottle at a time. Every Wednesday morning, 3-year-old Ezra Clemmons stands at his living room window waiting for the garbage truck. The vehicle uses the cul-de-sac near Ezra’s home to turn around, giving the child plenty of time to run to the kitchen and retrieve a cold bottle of water.
Ezra’s mother Sarah Clemmons said the routine caught her by surprise. “I was super proud of him when he wanted to go bring them something to drink because that just shows me, that hopefully, I’m doing something right,” Sarah says with humble laughter.
With water bottle in hand, Ezra’s small voice can be heard saying, “Garbage, I have some water,” as his mother holds open the door and he makes his way to the curb.
At the receiving end is Lydia Urpina, a self-proclaimed trash collector originally from Puerto Rico. She has been working with locally-owned Trash Rangers for about two years now and says seeing Ezra every Wednesday is “just awesome.”
“It warms our hearts, because this is a hard job in this weather,” Lydia said. “You can have a horrible day and a little kid comes out running and waving and it just gives you that boost, that strength and it’s like, ‘Wow, people really care.'”
Lydia is in a league of her own. According to the most recent Census data, there are more than 116,000 sanitation collectors in the U.S. and women make up less than 1% of the workforce. She is part of a two person team, along with her boyfriend Bert. “He loves kids,” she said. “He’s a very good guy, so he makes this job easy.”
On this particular Wednesday, Bert steps down from behind the wheel and makes his way to the three-year-old with a small gift, it’s a reward for Ezra’s kindness. The toddler reaches for the green and white Trash Rangers toy with open arms and excitement, before running back to his mother.
Sarah encourages Ezra to remember his manners and return to the couple in an effort to show his gratitude. The toddler does just that, saying “Thank you,” before giving Bert a high-five and Lydia a big embrace. Lydia smiles in return saying, “Little kids – there’s nothing like little kids getting excited for us. They’re awesome.”
This isn’t the first time Lydia and Bert have surprised Ezra. According to his mother, a few weeks ago, Bert gave the child a miniature Hot Wheels. That move prompted Sara to post on Facebook how appreciate both she, and little Ezra were for the kind act.
The post quickly went viral, collecting more than 700 interactions and prompting others to post how, they too, were impressed with Lydia’s work ethic.