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Ojai boy's love for trash truck touches hearts

A 5-year-old Ojai boy's love for the weekly trash truck results in a new friend, and a special gift.
February 17, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
An Ojai boy with autism has a fascination with garbage trucks. He literally will wait for hours on trash day to see them.

Every Monday morning, for a while now, Manuel Sanchez spends extra time at one home on his sanitation route in Ojai. It is a special home to Sanchez because of 5-year-old Daniel Mulligan.

The boy waves at Sanchez excitedly as he stops his truck to open the claw on the side and lift it up and down.

"It's like a symphony to him," said Daniel's mother, Robin Newberger.

Sanchez and Daniel became such swift friends that last Monday Sanchez brought the boy a gift: a little toy sanitation truck.

"He just filled my heart when I saw him from the very first time. He's a very happy guy," said Sanchez. "I saw the way he looks at trucks. I saw that truck a long time ago, and I said, 'Oh maybe Daniel would like his own trash truck.'"

Daniel's mom happened to be shooting video the day Sanchez pulled up with the gift. She posted it on YouTube and Facebook and it took off like wildfire. She titled it, "The Gift."

"I thought maybe a few hundred people, my friends, would share it. We had no idea. I've been getting messages from people in China, in Belgium," said Newberger.

The video has touched the hearts of people all over the world.

"To think that this man went out of his way, stopped at a store, got a gift for our child and brought it to him...when somebody does something like that, it's pretty triumphant," said Newberger. "I think that is what is touching the hearts of everybody around the world. As a mom, what mother isn't touched by that?"

It is a toy that Daniel cherishes, and a gift of giving reminding us all that kindness counts.

"We have families from all over the world with autism in their families that are contacting us and reaching out and telling us their stories," said Newberger.


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