UPDATED: Touching video about Autistic boy called “The Gift” is the gift that keeps on giving

Trevor Montgomery


Daniel, who was 5-years-old when this video was first shared in 2014 receives an unexpected gift from his favorite garbage collector Manuel.

Daniel, who was 5-years-old when this video was first shared in 2014 receives an unexpected gift from his favorite garbage collector Manuel.

A video shared two years ago continues to be shared and continues to touch the hearts and lives of those who see it.

The short video titled “The Gift” – which can be viewed below – was first shared with Autism Speaks in February 2014 and almost immediately went viral. On Youtube alone, just one of countless websites the video has been shared on, it has received nearly 4.5 million combined views.

The video shows a young boy receiving an unexpected gift from a recyclable-materials garbage collector. Daniel, the boy in the video, has autism, his mother, Robin Newberger explained. He had to overcome his initial fear of the noisy and seemingly chaotic actions of the garbage truck before he grew to love Mondays, the California family’s designated day for garbage collection.

“It was a slow but very successful process”

In a Facebook message to Autism Speaks, Robin explained how her son Daniel – who was 5 when Robin filmed this video – has Autism and was once terrified on the day designated for trash pickup in his neighborhood.

Robin explained how Daniel’s fear slowly grew into a love of trash day. “I showed him a YouTube video of a garbage truck a couple of years ago and he’s been obsessed ever since,” she wrote. “Slowly, what started out as a fear has turned into a fascination.”

“Like many children on the Autism spectrum, this has become a ritual for him,” Robin wrote about that special day. “He loves the predictable movement of the hoist and is excited by the entire spectacle. He waits all week for Monday morning pickup. He knows exactly which cans are being picked up each week, and Sundays are special for him when he gets to take the cans out with his dad.”

Daniel's father thanks Manuel, after Daniel received the unexpected gift.

Daniel’s father thanks Manuel, after Daniel received the unexpected gift.

“Our recycle man – known to the family only as Manuel at the time – is his favorite. He always has a big smile for Daniel, who is faithfully waiting for him every Monday,” Robin said. “To Daniel, trash pickup is like a symphony. He even synchronizes his hand movements with the truck.”

“The Gift” that started it all

On the day Daniel received the unexpected gift, you can see his little hands following the movement and mimicking the motions of the garbage truck’s hydraulic hoist. When Manuel suddenly backed the huge truck up and asked if he could give Daniel a present, both Robin and Daniel were surprised.

After receiving the gift, a large toy garbage truck the same color as his hero’s truck, Daniel was so overcome, he could barely manage a quiet thank you,” Robin wrote about the video and her son’s priceless response.

(Story continues below video…)

Manuel Sanchez, the garbage collector with the heart of gold

Manuel Sanchez, the garbage collector in the video, was even recognized by his employer, E.J. Harrison & Sons, for his touching act of kindness.

Here’s is just a sampling of the over 3,000 comments from readers of a previous story on the Internet:

  • Manuel Sanchez just showed what it is to be the best of “Humanity!” Not wealth, not politics, not gender, not race, not physical strength, not intelligence, just good old God-given kindness and a very big heart! This guy is awesome!
  • Good job, brother! That’s what being a hero is all about. Not your job, not your education or wealth, but how you treat people (especially kids).
  • He is just simply an amazing man. For him to do that on his own (also didn’t try to tape it to get recognition like most people) is the reason I haven’t given up hope for humanity. If more people would be like him the world would be in so much less chaos. I also salute the parents, the fact that they are willing to stand with their kid for hours just to keep him happy shows great love for their child. This is a great way to start a weekend.
  • Manuel Sanchez is a person with such a big heart. The company acknowledging the good deed is truly a great company. It’s not always easy to find great, devoted, loving, and generous employees, and for Daniel he now has the greatest friend ever. The good Lord rewards those who have a heart with much to give.
  • If I owned a company, I would hire this man ASAP! He would make my business soar by displaying the kind of selfless act he has shown here. Manuel, you are a credit to your profession.

Sanchez’s company officials agreed. In a press release shortly after the video was shared, E.J. Harrison and Sons officials had this to say about Manuel and his special gift of kindness, “(Manuel) is a great employee and an even better person. He said the reason he did what he did was because God put it in his heart. Manuel said he had been thinking about buying a toy trash truck for a while and that his wife Luz and their kids encouraged him to go ahead and do it.”

“That little boy is so special, and he will steal anybody’s heart as soon as you see him,” Manuel said about the gift he gave to Daniel.

Manuel said he found Daniel’s parents just as special. “Both of Daniel’s parents are always present, they never leave him alone, they hug him and kiss him and constantly talk to him with kind words,” he said.

“Manuel is a very humble man and feels overwhelmed and embarrassed by all the attention he is receiving,” according to his employers. “In fact, he said he was embarrassed after seeing the video because he did not wrap the toy trash truck but gave it to Daniel in a plastic bag!”

One man, one moment, touching the life of an autistic child

Employee officials praised their humble employee, saying,”Manuel, you deserve the attention you are receiving. You lifted the spirits of people around the world. The Harrison family joins me in saying it is an honor to have you as an employee. Good job!”

Robin said although her family has many “Trash Day” videos, this one was like no other. She described the amazing incident captured on film as, “One man, one moment, touching the life of an autistic child…our hearts are overflowing.”

Watching the video again today on Valentine’s Day, there is little doubt our hearts are once again overflowing.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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