Inspiring Forward: Cleaning Up Their Community One Bag at a Time

Giving back is individual to each of our Ambassadors. We met with John Anthony Woods-Hutchins (JW) to go over his Day-of-Giving experience of working with his son to clean up their neighborhood and surrounding parks within their local community, one bag at a time.

AC: For your Day of Giving, how did you contribute?

JW: For our day-of-giving, my son and I, decided to clean up our environment, specifically our neighborhood, local parks, and in other words, our home.

AC: Very inspiring! What motivated you to go out and clean up your community? What sparked this idea?

JW: It was more of an awakening of an issue that has been long overdue. It became a calling. What started the motivation was random.

I have been on a fitness journey since February, including a lot of walking and jogging. On one of my runs, I stopped to catch my breath and enjoy the nature around me and was shocked by all the ugly trash taking away from the beauty of my surroundings. While noticing all the junk on the ground, coincidentally, I watched someone throw a McDonald’s bag out on the street as they were driving away. That is when it occurred to me that my day of giving needed to be cleaning up my local community.

AC: Walk us through the experience and the process?

JW: Well, the experience was tiring but rewarding. The day before, I gathered items from the store that we would need; garbage bags, gloves, etc. I prioritized reminding my son how urgent this was and how much I needed him to be ready. Anyone who has a 9-year-old son will understand the need to set expectations. We woke up way early, and by 8 am were out in our neighborhood, working our way out into the surrounding community.  After a few hours, we took a break, and my son and I had a great conversation on why picking up trash is important for us and our neighbors.  After lunch, we drove to the parks that were not within walking distance but still within the town. We kept at it until 6 pm and were exhausted! At the peak of the day, the temperatures reached 95 degrees, but after seeing how clean everything was, it was so rewarding for both of us! Together we made the earth that much cleaner and safer.

AC: Incredible! You two covered a lot of ground in just one day. From your journey, what items were the most commonly discarded, and was there anything unusual?

JW: The most common items were paper, bottles, and just general plastic. If you ever read articles, stories of nature, and animal habitats, paper and plastic are the most dangerous to the environment. Some of the more surprising items were household-related, like full bags of trash, baby wipes, tissues, pizza boxes. In my mind, I don’t understand why someone would throw this out into the street or grass or various areas we found it.

AC: Wow! We agree, especially since all of those items harm our environment and the animals that live in it. After such a long day of giving back, how many bags were you able to fill?

JW: Well, shocking enough, in the first 15 minutes, we were able to fill one bag. By the end of the day, we had 10 bulging bags of trash!

AC: Ten bags, that’s a lot of trash simply laying around. The amazing task you and your son took to improve your community for the better. While you were giving back, did you meet others, or did others join you in cleaning up?

JW: Unfortunately, no. While that would have been great to have additional support, I was also realistic that most individuals were working at that time. However, some individuals asked questions, and I did my best to explain the motive and the goal behind the day.

AC: What would you say to encourage others to participate?

JW: For those who second guess whether you’re making a difference or if this type of activity matters, understand this and understand it well. The world, the animals, the present, and the future depend on change. You’ve all witnessed how ugly things can get when not cared for. Unless more individuals commit to making changes that matter, this trend will continue for our kids, their kids, and generations down the line. If my son and I can manage to pick up 10 bags of trash in a day, imagine what every household could do with committing to 8 hours of clean-up each year? Our efforts combined are far more impactful than we can imagine, and our future generations could use our help in ways we’ve never considered before. Not just the future for our kids, but animal habitats that are endangered, mother earth in which feeds, provides, protects us, all of this comes into play when deciding to keep your local environment clean and healthy. Let’s do our part and make the world that much better! I ask you all to love yourselves, one another, our planet, and our animal kingdom!

AC: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers before we go?  

JW: Brothers, Sisters, I hope you’ve all learned something from our journey. We did this for us, for you, for the earth, for the animals, for our collective present, and our future. Why? Because we love you, our planet, our future, and everything around us. When we made this decision, it had a profoundly deep meaning for us while also wanting to impact the health of the planet positively. We hope our day-of-giving story will remind everyone not to discard trash recklessly and be the change in cleaning it up to make the world a better place.