AJ Retaleato may only be six years old, but he’s already making headlines.
The Farmingdale, New York first grader surprised his parents one June day when he woke up and told them he wanted to “clean up and help the earth.” His dad Anthony Retaleato rolled with it, giving the boy some cleaning supplies and heading out to a local park.
Anthony said he was shocked that instead of going to the beach to have fun, his son’s only thought was of picking up litter. “[AJ] wanted to pick up all the garbage,” Anthony told Patch. “He said he felt bad for the earth. That was his quote that day. I’m like, ‘Alright, buddy.'”
Armed with plastic gloves, a bucket, and a trash-picker tool, AJ spent the next week visiting local parks and school playgrounds. They started with Captain Kathy Mazza Park in their neighborhood, and AJ enjoyed the task so much he couldn’t wait to get back at it the next day.
“He’s got this thing where he wants to clean. I’m not going to discourage him,” said AJ’s dad. In addition to his trips to local community sites, AJ likes to bring his picker and bucket along when his parents take their afternoon walks. He says he plans to continue his beautification project all summer long!
It didn’t take long before their community leadership noticed AJ’s efforts. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino praised the young man for his hard work, presenting him with a special certificate in a small ceremony at one of the parks he’d cleaned. “The Town Board and I are so proud of AJ, and his parents are even prouder for his love of the community,” Joseph wrote on Facebook.
The Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce also recognized AJ’s work and presented him with a Citizenship Award and $100 in Ralph’s Ice gift certificates. The people at Ralph’s Ices also gave him a t-shirt and bandanna to wear while he’s out saving the earth.
AJ is not just making waves in his hometown. He was recently featured in an issue of “People” magazine!
AJ’s parents couldn’t be prouder of their boy, and frankly we are all proud of him too! It takes a special kind of child to look beyond himself and find ways to improve the world around him.
Share this story to say thank you to this extraordinary young citizen!
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