NJ man cleans roadside, reunites owners with lost items

Anthony Johnson has the story from Paterson. (WABC)

A New Jersey man is a modern day road warrior whose work goes on quietly.

The 56-year-old man is making difference by cleaning the roads for free and finding lost items to reunite them with their owners.

Benny Gonzalez is preparing for his personal labor of love, gearing up for another evening of keeping highway access roads clean and litter free.

Benny Gonzalez "I think doing what I do, I'm not being pressured, like someone who works a job, if I was to have a regular job that would be hard for me," said Benny Gonzalez, a volunteer.

A traumatic brain injury Benny suffered as a child has done little to dampen his passion to help his community.

"I feel that it's great, I love to clean," Gonzalez said.

While cleaning, Benny finds all kinds to items discarded on the roadside; some have value like this wallet belonging to a teenager. Once he found a purse and did all he could to find the owner. Robin Peer couldn't believe it when Benny called after her valuables had been missing for 11 months.

"To get that back, it just shows me that there are some true people out there yet and everything that's bad there is always someone that's good about it," Peer said.

Benny's passion is returning the cherished items to their rightful owners. It brings him joy.

"As much as I am out there, it can take me four hours just to get dressed up and prepare to get out there to go," Gonzalez said.

Many New Jersey roads are covered by litter tossed by motorists who have a fondness for filth, but Paterson has a road worrier who carries plastic bags to fill with trash along with a dedication to keeping his community clean.

"People have been good to me so I pass it on," Gonzalez said.
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