No age limit in caring for your community

Nine-year-old Kross Rhodes and six-year-old Kylor Cates decided to pick up trash along Southern Avenue while waiting in a trunk-or-treat line that backed up for more than two miles and lasted more than two hours. (Photo courtesy of Shae Howard)

Halloween eve was filled with the usual holiday events – parties, kids showing off their costumes and the grand finale of a good ol’ fashion candy haul throughout Gillette.

Nine-year-old Kross Rhodes and his friend six-year-old Kylor Cates were no different as they had some sweet success in their trick-or-treat adventures. They also decided to do the unselfish thing and help clean up their hometown, a kind gesture that was no trick and all treat for the city.

Their fun-filled afternoon was a bit different than most youth their ages, however. They were wrapping up the day with a trip to the trunk-or-treat at Sunshine Auto when the journey hit a bit of a snag in the road so they opted to do some community service.

The traffic line, as many noticed that cold evening, was more than two miles long as it was at a standstill down Mohan Road, then along a portion of Highway 59 and another mile up Southern Road to the top of the hill. The wait to get their hands on more sweet treats was more than two hours.

For most kids – and parents for that matter – being corralled in a vehicle that long for some pieces of candy would had been a tough decision. Rhodes and Cates made the most of difficult situation.

With their vehicle essentially parked in a small town traffic jam, the best buddies got out of the car and starting pickup up trash along Southern Drive.

“The first thing that came to mind since I was bored was to pick up trash,” Rhodes said. “Actually, I feel pretty happy that the whole area is clean now.”

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Fourth grader Kross Rhodes checks in with his mom during one of his trash hauls. (Photo courtesy of Shae Howard)

It was a team effort from the get-go. Cates didn’t want his friend doing it alone in front of all the cars, so he jumped out of the vehicle and provided a helping hand.

Of course, they weren’t expecting to jump into action. So, they filled grocery bags with trash until they found a trash bag. One gentleman even hopped out of his car and gave the boys a little bit of a Halloween treat in the form of cash for their efforts.

“It made me feel happy because I did a good deed,” said Cates, who also spends time picking up trash around the family’s ranch.

Cleaning up his community is nothing new to Rhodes. Back on Earth Day on April 22, he helped clean up a different portion of Southern Drive where he filled about 15 trash bags with roadside litter.

“I feel sad because people are disrespecting us by saying they don’t like the Earth and it being cleaned.”

Rhodes does not like seeing his community sprinkled with garbage along side its roads. He has a plea to those who choose to toss trash out of the windows.

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“Don’t do it,” he said. “It’s ugly and it hurts the Earth and people’s feelings to see part of their property littered with trash.”

Cates echoed his friend’s plea, saying “Don’t throw trash out your window.”

Tylor Cates show off the big piece of garbage he collected. (Photo courtesy of Shae Howard)

Rhodes hopes other kids will join him next Earth Day in cleaning up the community. He might be back in action with bags in hand before that as he wants to go along with his mom to fill a few more bags in the meantime.

“We will definitely be going out to pick up more trash after the winter or on Earth Day,” Cates said about his future plans with his buddy. “I want to clean up a good section of Highway 14/16 because we drive that daily.”

Both Rhodes and Cates hopes their actions inspire others, including their own classmates. If Rhodes gets his way, he might find a couple more friends to join him next time.

“I would tell them that you should do it because in the beginning you don’t feel like doing it, but when you’re done, you feel way better knowing that the Earth is cleaner.”

Rhodes is the son of Tony and Shae Howard, and Adam Rhodes. Cates is the son of Amber Osborne and Nick Cates.