Annual birthday bash: pickin’ up trash

STARKSBORO — Last weekend Lux Tierney celebrated her ninth birthday by collecting trash.
Along with her friends and family the Starksboro youngster filled up three green trash bags and loaded three tires into a garden cart for pickup.
“We found a TV, but it was too big to pick up,” she said.
In its fourth year, Tierney’s Green Up birthday party has become something of a tradition. Kids come over and play for awhile, and then the bags and gloves come out. It’s time for everyone to take part in a Vermont tradition — Green Up Day.
Guests are encouraged to bring mud boots.
Tierney’s actual birthday is May 2, and Green Up Day always falls on the first Saturday in May. Her mom, Christa Finnern, explained how the birthday trash collection tradition got started:
“We moved to our house when Lux was three and she has spent a lot of time traveling down our road — via stroller, bike and walking. Even from a young age she noticed the trash in the ditches, so when she found out that there was a special day when everyone in the state picked up trash and it was often on or near her birthday, she was really excited to have this be the activity that happened at her party.”
The Robinson Elementary third-grader says the best part of her birthday tradition is “getting to clean up the outdoors and cleaning our road. Also that I know that I’m helping the earth. Last of all I know that I’m saving some animals’ lives when I clean the roads and ditches.”
The group brings some kind of mechanical grabber with them every year, but some kids, like Tierney’s younger sister, Isolde, prefer to jump into the ditches and pick up the trash on their own, their mom said.
One year, Tierney recalled, “one of my friends, Annabelle, found a coyote skull that had teeth and everything!” Tierney’s volunteer spirit has only grown over the years. About six months ago, after reading the book “Last Stop on Market Street” and encountering homeless people in Burlington, she told her mom she wanted to volunteer at a shelter.
“On her actual birthday we prepared a dinner for 30 people (at Anew Place in Burlington) and stayed to eat with them,” said Finnern. “It was fantastic — they all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.”
Last Saturday, also according to tradition, Tierney saved the best part of her party for last — cake and presents. She did not receive any Green Up Day–related gifts, she said in an email to the Independent, but the cake was a hit.
“I had strawberry shortcake that my Grandma Lainey made. It was delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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