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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Garbage Man Helps Elderly Woman Every Week After Seeing Her Take Dangerous Fall

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It is possible to change lives through our everyday, mundane routines. We don’t need to spend thousands of dollars or travel halfway around the world: We just need eyes to see and a heart and hands that are ready to help.

Billy Shelby from Independence, Missouri, is an excellent example of finding ways to serve in his own community. He’s a garbage man, and earlier this year he came across a heartbreaking scene.

An elderly woman named Opal Zucca had been moving her trash can when she fell and seriously injured herself. Shelby saw her and was able to make sure she got help.

“Thankfully her trash guy was there and helped her back up and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived,” Zucca’s daughter Colette Kingston told CBS News.

But it went much further than that. Ever since her fall, Shelby has made it his job to check on her during his route and bring her trash barrel up to the house so she doesn’t have to.

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“I made it a point to make sure it wasn’t going to happen again, so I started taking her cart back to her house,” he told WDAF-TV. “It’s gotten to a point where she kind of expects to see me, and I expect to see her.”

“I genuinely just like people, [and] I believe smiles are contagious, you know what I mean?”

“Here I drive a trash truck,” he said. “That’s it, right? But even with that, I can still be the best person I can be, and it can help somebody through their day.”

He wasn’t the only one who noticed, though. Opal’s family knew of his kindness and wanted the world to know what a kind person he was. Kingston posted a video on Facebook, obtained from her mother’s Ring camera, that illustrated just how thoughtful Shelby was.

It took off.

“In January, my mom fell while trying to bring the trash can back up her driveway and got hurt,” Colette Kingston wrote on Oct. 15. “This gentleman from WasteManagement was there when it happened. Ever since, he has brought the can back up the driveway for mom.”

“This was him today helping her; he demonstrates such care for her. It takes a village – such a small kind gesture but leaves a enormous relief for us. Thank you kind sir. Love, the Zucca family,” she concluded.

As the story circulated, it came on the news, and Shelby was shocked to see himself on the screen.

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“Me and my mother was sitting there watching the news, and I said, ‘That look like me’, and then when it came on, I said, ‘That’s me,’” Shelby told WDAF-TV.

“From all of us kids, thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Kingston said. “[We’re grateful] just to know there are angels in the world watching out for her.”

Now, in addition to all Shelby’s online fans, others have repaid him for his kindness. Tim Grunhard, a former player for Shelby’s favorite football team, gave him tickets to an upcoming game.

“I just believe in good energy, man,” Shelby said. “If you give it out, more than likely, that’s what you’re going to get back.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking