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City recognizes a boy and his grandma for taking care of trash
Becki Myers Hill and her grandson, Matthew Alexander, 7, like to visit Auburn's parks, always have.
But sad to say, from time to time their eyeballs alight on trash befouling his favorite places.
Such urban offal offends this particular boy's sense of right and wrong, down to the core. He takes it personally. It riles him up. So he and his grandma pick the stuff up and drop it into appropriate receptacles.
Matthew goes so far as to take home recyclables — including the tiniest paper clips — and deal with them there.
For all the right reasons, such activity was bound to bring the boy and his grandma to the attention of City employees.
At City Hall on Monday night, Auburn officially recognized the duo for their efforts, awarding grandma and grandson certificates of appreciation for demonstrating how, by their actions, everybody "can make Auburn a better place."
"Your City is very proud of your civic pride," the verbiage on the certificates concludes.
"We thought it was time to recognize them for their service," Mayor Pete Lewis explained, "and thank them for what they have done.
"We also wanted to thank them for making this an awareness campaign of their own, part of what it means to be a good citizen. Not only do you not litter, but if you see some, take a moment to pick it up and put it in a receptacle," Lewis added.
Ah, but the City had more than certificates to hand out Monday.
Grandma and grandson also received special medallions, which are rarely given out and only to people who do special things for their city.
Finally, there was something just for Matthew. Something that truly lit up his face — chocolate from Auburn's Gosanko Chocolate Art.
As the applause in the Council Chamber subsided, Myers Hill explained how it all got started.
By the time Matthew was 2 years old, Myers Hill said, they had gotten into the pleasant habit of visiting a park near her home, where he loved to play. One day, she said, he saw teens throwing wrappers on the ground, fouling his favorite park. That sight so fired up the boy's tidy young soul he began picking things up, using latex gloves and bags she gave him.
"I got him a garbage picker-upper. He wouldn't share it. I had to buy one for myself," Myers Hill laughed.
In time, she said, some teenagers noticed what the little boy was doing and began following his example.
Recently, Matthew took another cause under his wing: graffiti. The sight of it on one of his play things spurred him on to new dimensions of action: he got the City to come out and take care of it.
"You can't start too young," Myers Hill said.