Good Neighbors

So Many Happy Tears! See How A Community Thanked Their Sanitation Workers

They wanted to make sure the men were recognized for their hard work and sacrifice during the pandemic.

While we've gone out of our way to thank hospital workers, delivery drivers and grocery store employees during the coronavirus pandemic, there's another group of essential workers that deserve to be recognized – those who pick up our trash.

That's why a group of residents in Miami Beach, FL, planned a surprise 'thank you' party to show their local sanitation workers just how much they're appreciated. Wow!

Dozens of neighbors and friends in the North Bay Road community lined the street with signs and balloons as Saul Scruggs and Keon Richardson arrived to what they thought was a meeting with their manager to address a customer complaint last Friday.

What they didn't know is that the celebration was for them, and that the residents had been planning the surprise for weeks.

"They do so much more than pick up our trash. What is particularly special about these two men is the positive energy that they bring with them," Jennifer Elegan, who helped plan the event, told Local 10. "They always have smiles. If you know them, you love them!"

Neighbors from several different communities gathered for the surprise 'thank you' party for Scruggs and Richardson. Myles Roberts/Facebook

During the coronavirus pandemic, Scruggs and Richardson never missed a day of work, and the people along their route have come to know and treasure them. The men are always kind, and they go out of their way to make sure the community is taken care of.

For example, Saul once spent almost an hour helping a resident search through her trash to find a missing wedding ring. In another instance, he stayed with a woman who was having heart issues until a paramedic arrived.

The men were overcome with emotion as they were greeted by their friends and family members who showered them with hugs, gifts and messages of gratitude. The city's mayor and commissioner even stopped by to personally thank them for going above and beyond their job duties.

Friends and family wore masks & posed with Richardson and Scruggs for photos. John Elizabeth Aleman/Facebook

Both Scruggs and Richardson were moved to tears by the sweet gesture.

"Thanks very much, I appreciate it," Scruggs said. "Without you guys, this wouldn't be possible."

"Everything you taught me," Richardson added. "I just want to be like ya'll."

Even though people were wearing masks, you could tell there were smiles on everyone's faces as they cheered and posed for photos with the two men in front of their truck. The men were also presented with plaques of appreciation signed by the mayor and city commissioner.

The men even received signed certificates of appreciation from Miami Beach's mayor Dal Gelber and city commissioner Eileen Higgins John Elizabeth Aleman/Facebook

"Every day we are surrounded by heroes who bring us inspiration and joy, but too often we are unable to recognize these special individuals for the impact they make on others," Elegan said. "I wanted Saul and Keon to know that we are thankful from the bottom of our hearts."

How can you start something good?

Inspired by this community's act of kindness?

There are plenty of ways to show your appreciation for essential workers in your community. You can leave thank you notes or gifts, or consider working with your neighbors to plan something extra special, like the people in this story did. It's easy enough to just say thank you, and to act with kindness and patience as we navigate the new "normal" together. And don't forget to wear a mask!

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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