Elementary student helping his neighborhood, one trash collection at a time

Luke Cox collects trash and recycling across his neighborhood every Thursday morning, something his teachers say, help with this educational development.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Every Thursday morning, at 6 a.m., 9-year-old Luke Cox gets excited about his favorite day of the week: trash collection day.

With help from his dad, Scott, Luke has become quite the pro at collecting trash and recycling. During the pandemic, the two would wake up before sunrise, collect garbage and recycling, roll out their neighbor’s trash cans, and follow the pick-up crew as they worked.

At this point, Luke is on a first-name basis with his neighborhood’s collection team. They let him line the cans up to their trash truck, climb on the side of the truck, and pull levers to dump the trash particles in the truck.

Luke is such a fan, Scott built him is own motorized trash truck, donning “Luke’s Trash Service” on the side. He makes his rounds, picking up what may have been left behind.

Once his round-up is complete, Luke still has a whole day of school at Baker-Butler Elementary ahead.

“Even around here we collect trash,” Luke said, sitting beside his dad at school after their eventful morning collecting trash.

“Even around schools, he loves to try to collect the trash,” Scott replied.

The skills Luke picks up on the trash truck actually help him in the classroom. He has autism, and according to his special education teacher, Ashley Kaiser, it helps him learn.

“We like to pick up the trash here at school and so when we’re working it’s something that he’s earned. It just motivates him to continue his work, it motivates him to continue learning,” Kaiser explained. “He focuses more with his reading, with his handwriting, when he knows that it’s something that he’s working towards.”

Scott said his son’s passion for the work is infectious.

“Luke being on the spectrum, we don’t consider him to have special needs, we consider him to have special gifts. And those gifts, we embrace those and in this case, it’s going to be his passion for trash trucks, picking up trash, and being a steward for the environment,” Cox said. “Seeing that passion in him really brings out the flame in us to be able to help him out and enjoy that in addition to spreading the word and the initiative stuff.”

For Luke, it’s simple. He just wants to help.

“The environment gets dirtier and it’s so nice for the environment,” he said. “I love helping out people.”

Next Thursday morning, he’ll be outside again, ready to clean up his neighborhood and lend a helping hand.

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