By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
Litter bugs, be warned: Wilda Ivy and her great-grandson, Paden, have their stomping boots on and are out for blood.
Over the past few months, the pair have made a hobby of traveling a four-mile stretch of Mt. Pleasant Road, where Ivy lives, on a Gator Utility Vehicle and picking up the trash they find on the roadside. It’s a great way to keep the neighborhood clean and spend some quality time with her great-grandson.
“We enjoy doing it,” she said of the task, which she and Paden, four, perform weekly. The process usually takes between three and four hours to complete.
“It’s like a dose of medicine,” she said. “You just get to be outside and relax.”
While most people probably wouldn’t consider patrolling for litter the best activity to unwind, Ivy confessed to loving it. Of course, it’s not the actual act of picking up litter she enjoys, but spending time with Paden.
Paden, on the other hand, seems to have developed some kind of personal vendetta against litter bugs.
“It makes me mad,” he said, eyes narrowing into thin slits.
His grandpa, Shelby, laughed and said Paden doesn’t think much of those people who litter.
“He’ll see a piece of paper or can on the side of the road, and he’ll say, ‘Those people need their butts kicked,’” Shelby Ivy said.
His wife laughed and added, “Oh, and he can spot a can if just the top of it is sticking out of the ground.”
She said recycling these discarded soda and beer cans has garnered Paden a whopping $85 — a fortune to a kid his age.
“He works at it, now,” she said, adding that Paden uses a grabber to snatch most trash from the side of the road and toss it into the bed of the Gator “I don’t even have to get out.”
Of course, it’s not all aluminum gold out there on Mt. Pleasant Road; there’s a lot of genuine garbage as well. On their first trip out, the duo picked up enough trash to fill a 30-gallon garbage bag. And there was plenty more where that came from. No matter how hard the two of them work, there’s always more trash waiting to be picked up.
“We’ve found everything from bras to coolers to a full bottle of beer,” Ivy said. “You’d think after you kept it clean for so long, people would get the idea … [But] people act like nobody lives down this road.”
Still, in a way, Ivy has these litter bugs to thank for the abundance of quality time she gets to spend with her great-grandson. Plus, Paden’s learning a valuable lesson about the importance of picking up after oneself and taking pride in his home. Those are the kinds of lessons that will help define the type of person he becomes; lessons worth every empty can, fast food wrapper and discarded pair of underwear the two of them find together.
That said, Ivy could do with a bit less of all that stuff.
“It just gets on my nerves,” she said.