Warm clothes and rain boots were invaluable at the cold, wet Trash Bash on April 7 at Heights Park

Warm clothes and boots were invaluable at the cold, wet Trash Bash on April 7 at Heights Park.

An empty bottle in the grass. A sandwich wrapper near — but not inside — a trashcan. We’ve all seen these “Don’t Mess With Texas” fails. Last weekend, Huibrie Pretorius led a group of hardy Heights Park residents in cleaning up garbage at our neighborhood park.

Huibrie, a native South African who moved to Richardson with her husband and two sons about two and a half years ago, teaches Tinkergarten, a learning-through-play class for young children at Heights Park. Cleaning up is part of her routine.

“I have classes once or twice a week in the park. I do my best to clean up trash from the areas we’ll play in that day,” she said.

Huibrie sought to make a bigger impact on the park’s appearance during Richardson’s annual Trash Bash. She created an event on the Heights Park Neighborhood Facebook group, and residents quickly responded that they’d attend.

On the morning of the cleanup, temperatures dipped into the 30s, and lingering rain made for less-than-ideal conditions. However, five families including children ages 2 to 7 braved the weather to fill six bags with trash. Volunteers picked up many remnants from the previous weekend’s Easter celebrations — egg shells, confetti and even some treasure.

“My 4-year-old son picked up a plastic Easter egg with some coins still inside,” Huibrie said. “It certainly helped him feel a bit better about being out in the cold!”

Huibrie said she would consider organizing another cleanup event, perhaps another Saturday in the fall. She said she is pleased with neighbors’ enthusiasm and participation.

“Thanks everyone who came and persisted in the cold and also all of you who even considered it!” Huibrie said. “I know the sudden cold weather might have deterred some willing volunteers and that is totally understandable. I hope to see you all again soon!”

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