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Trash collectors stay busy during holidays
Workers see gifts, perfectly good items tossed
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Anthony Towe, a truck driver, spends about 10 hours behind the wheel during the busiest times of year for Red Oak Sanitation Service. The most hectic weeks of the year come any time between Thanksgiving and right after the new year begins. - photo by Erin O. Smith

For trash collectors, the weeks before and after Christmas are like Black Friday for retail workers.

“It’s a crazy time of year for us,” said Tim Citrone, consultant for business development at Red Oak Sanitation Service. “It’s difficult for our guys to take off to spend time with their families.”

Trash collector Anthony Towe was able to get Christmas Day off, but worked longer hours to make up for it.

“The trash load is heavier, which makes the days longer,” Citrone said. “The guys know to expect it (this time of year).”

Towe has dealt with this rush for the past 10 years, the past two with Red Oak, which doesn’t hire seasonal help.

“We prefer to use our guys we’ve got,” Citrone said. “They do everything rain or shine, which most people forget about.”

They do all this without a peep.

“Our guys do all of this extra hard work, and not one of them complains about it, they just get it done,” Citrone said.

The most hectic weeks of the year come any time between Thanksgiving and right after the new year begins, which means workers like Towe can spend at least two or three extra hours on the job.

“We need the guys to be on point at all times, but especially this time of year,” Citrone said.

Guys like Towe see a lot of perfectly good stuff tossed away this time of year.

“I see a lot of bicycles. Bicycles with nothing wrong on them,” Towe said.

Officials at Red Oak, which serves Hall County, Forsyth County and the city of Suwanee, suggest donating items that are lightly worn or used.

Citrone said women’s shelters are one place to keep in mind when throwing out donatable items.

“Sometimes these women and kids have to flee. They might only have the clothes on their backs and could really use the stuff that’s being thrown away,” Citrone said. “Things we might consider junk could be really useful.”

Towe said he often sees gifts he believes were thrown away by accident. He advises people to be extra cautious when mountains of wrapping paper and other trash can hide smaller presents.

It also helps if people break down cardboard boxes. Flattening them speeds up stops and makes the collectors’ jobs a little easier.

Packing peanuts, which can come in all sorts of new Christmas toys, should also be bagged.

“If you don’t (bag them), it looks like snow in Georgia,” Citrone said.

The peanuts can come free from boxes and pollute the ground along the route. They are also not recyclable.

“They will go everywhere,” Towe said.

Another tip for helping collectors is to have your trash out the night before it is usually picked up. The first few cans on a route might be picked up as early as 7 a.m.

“We go back for (missed cans), but it costs money and time,” Citrone said.