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5th Graders Team Up with ‘Ya Fav Trashman’ to Clean Philly Streets and Deliver Meals

May 24, 2021

Not long ago, Russell Byers Charter School hosted a special guest speaker, Terrill Haigler, also known throughout Philadelphia and on Instagram as ‘Ya Fav Trashman.’

After taking on his position as laborer for the Philadelphia Sanitation Department, Terrill Haigler became an essential worker. To bridge the gap between residents and sanitation workers, he created the Instagram page @yafavtrashman to give residents an inside look at what sanitation workers experience during the pandemic. Terrill noticed that his co-workers didn’t have the proper PPE to execute their jobs safely, so he started a Custom Ink t-shirt fundraiser to purchase PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies.

Terrill spoke with our students about the power of action and the importance of constant perseverance and dedication to both yourself and your community.

But this lesson wasn’t just shared with students. They put it into action!

Led by their teachers, Jeremy Sadler and Melissa Fox, thirteen 5th grade students decided to get involved and serve their community. Using Google Maps, each student identified and submitted locations they thought could use some positive attention. A neighborhood was chosen based on these responses.

Then the whole group (including 9+ family members) teamed up with ‘Ya Fav Trashman’ and took to the streets. Everyone gathered at the 2900 block of Huntington Street in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

The students swept and collected trash. After much hard work, they filled up half a garbage truck.

To further serve their community, they handed out grocery boxes filled with fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, and a whole cooked chicken. By the end of the day, they handed out over 200 boxes.

While working, these 5th graders were very dedicated. A few of them live in Strawberry Mansion, so it was a powerful experience to have everyone out there helping their neighborhood.

It was also very educational. Besides learning about the power of action and positive change, students learned how to use Google Maps, including how to mark and share locations.

Mr. Sadler commented that this project provided an excellent transition from science to social studies. The last lesson his class covered was humans’ impact on the environment. Next up is local government.

Since our school’s approach is to offer students the opportunity to learn by doing, their next project will also be engaging. Students will discover their own local representatives and reach out to them to discuss their time volunteering with ‘Ya Fav Trashman’ and the changes they would like to see in their own neighborhoods.

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