It’s early Monday morning in a neighborhood in Ojai, Calif. Like clockwork, a light blue recycling truck drives down the block, and like clockwork, a little boy named Daniel watches with delight.
The story of a kindhearted moment between a sanitation worker and a 5-year-old boy first went viral in 2014. Now, the story is circulating again, with viewers still wiping sentimental tears from their eyes.
Part of his weekly routine, 5-year-old Daniel Mulligan savored the moment the recycling truck would stop in front of his house. The garbage man, Manuel Sanchez, was a hero in the eyes of a little boy who admired everything about Sanchez and his exciting blue truck.
“He loves the predictable movement of the hoist and is excited by the entire spectacle,” said Daniel’s mother, Robin Newberger. “To him, trash pickup is like a symphony.”
Over time, the pair developed a relationship of smiling and waving at one another. “[Manuel] always has a big smile for Daniel, who is faithfully waiting for him every Monday,” Newberger explained, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
On this particular day, Sanchez called out to Daniel’s mother, asking if he could give Daniel a gift. He approached the curious boy carrying a large trash bag, with a thoughtful gift secured inside.
Daniel was excited to open the bag and find a brand-new toy garbage truck of his own! Newberger was equally as excited, explaining that Daniel used to have a toy garbage truck, but it had broken.
Newberger was so touched by Sanchez’s thoughtfulness, she decided to share the video with a group that is near and dear to her heart: Autism Speaks. Daniel is on the autism spectrum, but that made no difference to Sanchez, who just saw Daniel as another trash-can-loving kid.
“One man, one moment, touching the life of an autistic child,” Newberger wrote. “Our hearts are overflowing.”
“That little boy is so special, and he will steal anybody’s heart as soon as you see him,” Sanchez told his employer, E.J. Harrison & Sons. “I didn’t know what he has, but there’s something very special about him.”
Sanchez was recognized by his company for his kindhearted gesture, who said Sanchez selected and paid for the toy with his own money. The lovely moment has been well received by people around the globe, including fellow sanitation workers who can relate to that sparkly, wide-eyed wonderment that never gets old.