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Keeping It Clean

If you’ve noticed that the litter on your street has been picked up, the errant shopping cart is no longer on your lawn or the broken streetlight has been repaired, you might have Shane Toy to thank for that.

Shane lives with a developmental disability but that does nothing to prevent him from making a huge contribution to the city of Abbotsford. You’ll often see Shane with a large grey garbage can, wearing disposable gloves and using his orange-handled garbage picker, gathering litter from the streets, ditches and roundabouts. When he finds abandoned shopping carts he takes it upon himself to return these to the store from which they originated. He also gathers tossed cans and bottles and returns them for money. And if there’s a streetlight out, he memorizes the location and gives the city a call.

“They’re pretty fast at repairing those,” he says.

All of this is done on his own initiative because he just likes to see things clean. But some businesses have taken note of Shane’s work ethic and hired him to continue to keep their place of work tidy. Laura Ullock, administrative assistant at Communitas Supportive Care Society, says that Shane is a diligent worker and can always be relied upon to get the job done. He also volunteers at Communitas events.

“Shane has helped us with event set-up and take-down, garbage collection and he has even been the pit-master at the BBQ for an event we held in the community,” Ullock says. “I remember one time after all of the other volunteers had left at the end of an event, Shane was the very last person to stick around and help clean up. He has an amazing drive to help out.”

There are times when picking up garbage means dealing with hazardous materials like used needles or broken glass. Shane is fastidious and never touches dangerous items with his bare hands, always using his garbage picker to handle materials and disposing of them properly. When he finds items too big to carry – like furniture pieces – he lets the city know.

Sometimes there are advantages to taking notice of what’s lying on the ground. Once he found a hundred dollar bill.

“I bought a new shower curtain with some of that money,” he says.

Shane has received commendations from the city of Abbotsford for voluntarily doing his part to keep the city clean. He takes pride in his work and he is gratified when others notice.

“Sometimes children see me and ask their parents what I’m doing,” he says. “When the parents tell them I’m cleaning up, they smile at me. They’re so cute!”

Shane wishes that people would dispose of their garbage properly and is quick to commend people when they do. But in the meantime, the residents of Abbotsford can thank Shane for keeping our streets clean.

How do people with diverse abilities make a difference in your community?

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