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Manuel Sanchez: Recycling Truck Driver With a Heart of Gold

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A viral video with more than 1.4 million views captures a California recycling truck driver giving a toy to a 5-year-old boy with autism.

If you haven't seen this yet, it's well worth the view.

In the video, Manuel Sanchez, a recycling collector in Southern California, wins over the heart of a 5-year-old boy named Daniel Mulligan.

Daniel, who is autistic, runs to greet the truck as it arrives and waves his hands, seeming in sync with with the truck's movements. But before Sanchez drives off, he asks if he can give Daniel a present and then emerges from his vehicle with a toy garbage truck. 

Daniel is dumbfounded.

Daniel's mother recounted on Facebook, "One man, one moment, touching the life of an autistic child. Our hearts are overflowing... Daniel loves trash trucks. He waits all week for Monday morning pickup. He knows exactly which cans are being picked up each week. Our recycle man, known only to us as Manuel, is his favorite. He always has a big smile for Daniel, who is faithfully waiting for him every Monday. This morning threw him off a bit! He asks me if Manuel is going to get back into the truck because the routine has suddenly changed. To him, trash pickup is like a symphony. You hear me on the video explaining to (Manuel) that Daniel had his truck and it broke. It makes it all the more amazing."

Since being posted, the video has garnered more than 1.4 million views with the story getting picked up by media outlets across the world.

Manuel drives for E.J. Harrison & Sons and the Ventura-based company. The firm has posted about the episode on its own site.

Manuel Sanchez is a great employee and an even better person. He said the reason he did what he did was because God put it in his heart. Manuel said he had been thinking about buying a toy trash truck for a while and that his wife Luz and their kids encouraged him to go ahead and do it.
"That little boy is so special, and he will steal anybody's heart as soon as you see him," Manuel told us. "I didn't know what he has but there's something very special about him."
Manuel said he found Daniel's parents as special also. "Both of Daniel's parents are always present, they never leave him alone, they hug him and kiss him and constantly talk to him with kind words," he said.
Manuel is a very humble man and feels overwhelmed and embarrassed by all the attention he is receiving. In fact, he said he was embarrassed after seeing the video because he did not wrap the toy trash truck but gave it to Daniel in a plastic bag!
Manuel, you deserve the attention you are receiving. You lifted the spirits of people around the world. The Harrison family joins me in saying it is an honor to have you as an employee. Good job!

Watch the video below.

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Allan Gerlat

Allan Gerlat joined the Waste360 staff in September 2011 as news editor. He was the editor of Waste & Recycling News for the first 16 years of its history, and under his guidance the...

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