Biloxi toddler tackles trash in park and neighborhood

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A little Biloxi boy is waging his own battle against litter. This week, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway honored three year old Zachary Belvel for helping to clean-up his community. The toddler and his grandfather are making a positive difference, one street at a time.

"We stop, we look both ways, and then we go fast," Dick Belvel told his grandson Zachary as they approached an intersection Thursday.

For both, a stroll through their Biloxi neighborhood is a chance to learn numbers.

"He reads the numbers on the mailboxes, so he gets his numbers that way," Belvel explained.

It's also an opportunity to pick-up other life lessons. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the 78 year old grandfather and his three year old grandson walk about a half-mile to the park behind the Margaret Sherry Library. As they weave through the neighborhoods and along Popp's Ferry Road, they pick up trash.

"Okay, we got trash over here," Belvel said as he pointed to an object on the ground.

The two-person team has been on litter patrol since Zachary was a tiny tot.

"I'd push him in the little carriage when we first started and we'd go just around the block a little bit. When he started walking, we walked a little bit and he said, "Paw Paw, let's go for a walk,'" said Belvel.

Paw Paw carries a plastic bag, while little Zachary keeps his eyes peeled for cans, plastic bottles, and other junk.

"Paw Paw picks up the dirty diapers and I pick up the garbage," said Zachary. "Because it's stinky. So Paw Paw will have to take it. He doesn't want me to touch it."

When asked if he likes picking up trash, Zachary nodded and responded, "Because it's a mess."

Of course, it's not all work and no play.

"Paw paw, I want you to swing me high," Zachary pleaded with his grandfather as he sat on a swing.

After a short break, the clean-up continues.

"He goes to Walmart with his grandma and he sees trash in the parking lot and picks it up. Wherever we go, if he sees trash, he picks it up," said Belvel.

It's an anti-littering legacy Paw Paw is proud to pass on to his only grandchild.

"It's a shame. I mean, you have trash cans here and people will throw their trash down next to the trash can instead of putting it in the trash can," said Belvel. "I'm trying to teach him that it's not good to litter. Maybe he'll pass it on to somebody else. We got to start somewhere."

At such a young age, Zachary already knows the importance of keeping the neighborhood litter-free.

"Because it's trashy," he said. "I'm throwing it in the garbage can and making it clean."

It's no wonder  Zachary's favorite toy is a garbage truck. Mr. Belvel said he'll continue the litter patrol as long as he is physically able, or until Zachary starts Kindergarten.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.