Anita & Sheila
Toronto Boy Who Loves Garbage Trucks Gets Big Surprise On 3rd Birthday
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
GFL Environmental Inc. workers make time for preschooler on his big day.
By Muriel Draaisma
*This article is reproduced courtesy CBC News (September 17, 2020 at 12:12 a.m. EDT)
Wolfgang Reader, middle, poses with the garbage workers who came to his third birthday party. (Submitted by Julia Wehkamp)
For Wolfgang Reader, the arrival of the neighbourhood garbage workers every Friday is an exciting time.
According to his parents, Wolfgang waits for the workers to pick up the trash on his street. When he sees them, he waves them down.
Two in particular, Drew and D.J., always make time for a chat with the boy and to check out his latest garbage truck toy. They also call themselves his "Wolfpack."
If Wolfgang is not on the porch waiting for them, the workers will honk their horns in advance to let him know they are coming.
When Wolfgang's third birthday was approaching in early September, his parents said he couldn't have a big party because of the pandemic, but that he could invite a couple of friends over for cake.
So when his parents asked who he wanted, Wolfgang, without hesitation, said, "Drew and D.J."
On his birthday, Sept. 9, Wolfgang got a big surprise—some of which you can watch for yourself in the video below:
The COVID-19 pandemic couldn't stop the "Wolfpack" from celebrating a Toronto boy's third birthday. 2:45
Four garbage trucks came. D.J. was on vacation, but Drew arrived with a crew, blaring their horns on his street.
"Wolfgang was speechless," his mother, Julia Wehkamp, said in a Facebook post.
The workers from GFL Environmental Inc. made sure that Wolfgang had a very special birthday by bringing a few gifts, such as hats and colouring books and a high-visibility employee T-shirt.
"The boys came bearing gifts, howling out their windows and took time to play with Wolfy," Wehkamp wrote. "He even got to honk the horn! Does it get any better!?"
Grandmother had written letter to city
A month before his birthday, Wolfgang's grandmother had sent a letter to the City of Toronto saying her grandson is obsessed with garbage trucks, that he loves Drew and D.J. and that he had a birthday soon and would love it if they could stop by.
The family heard nothing for weeks.
Then, on the morning of his birthday, their supervisor showed up at the door. He said possibly a garbage truck could stop by for the big day.
Drew and Wolfgang pose in front of the garbage-truck-themed birthday cake. (Submitted by Julia Wehkamp)
His parents decided to decorate the house, with a garbage truck theme, and the family ended up having surprise visitors.
"Mad respect to the solid crew at GFL — Green For Life Environmental, all the essential workers during this difficult time and to the kind souls who took their own personal time to make a little kid smile," Wehkamp wrote.
'He'll never forget it,' his mom says
In an interview with CBC Toronto, Wehkamp described the moment when they arrived.
"All of a sudden, the noise started and you saw coming down the street four garbage trucks blaring their horns," she said.
"Guys are hanging out the window, screaming. And they pulled up out front and all the guys got out. They brought him a whole bunch of presents and shirts that they wear and hats and colouring books. The whole nine yards.
Drew takes time to play garbage trucks with Wolfgang. (Submitted by Julia Wehkamp)
"Drew came out, which Wolfy recognized immediately. I was super happy to see him and he took time to play with him in the garbage trucks. They were here for a good half an hour, 45 minutes, just taking time out of their personal time to make a little boy happy. And he'll never forget it. Yeah, it was very cool."
"By the end of it, I think we had 20 neighbours here," Wehkamp said.
"Solid guys, honestly, just the salt of the earth, and people I think we need right now in this world. I feel really blessed."
Wolfgang goes to school on Fridays now, so he misses the garbage truck, but he wants to be a garbage truck driver when he grows up.
'We took a liking to him and he took a liking to us'
Drew told CBC Toronto: "Wolfy is a really great kid. I like that kid, man! We took a liking to him and he took a liking to us."
Drew and D.J. asked that their last names not be used for privacy reasons.
Their friendship with Wolfgang started when the boy put up a "Thank you essential workers" sign on the lawn and put his toy garbage trucks outside.
Drew said he appreciates Wolfgang's enthusiasm. "It means a lot. It's the children, they're the next generation to come. Seeing them enthusiastic about even just something as simple as what we do in our everyday lives brings meaning and shows the importance of what everyone does in society.
"It just makes me feel good."