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Litter Force takes on Evil Trash at elementary schools

By KBell
Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.

Israel Porras, 11, learns not to mess with Texas roads when he's confronted by an evil bag of potato chips. The offending sack of spuds was soon vanquished by the Litter Force, a team of civic-minded super heroes that joined the play at Hopkins Academy.

A fight broke out Thursday at Hopkins Academy.

It was Bolt vs. Pop Top - a Litter Force superhero wrangling an Evil Trash villain.

Eventually, the fourth- and fifth-graders themselves were throwing punches in the air, bellowing with each blow, "Blast the trash!"

The costumed superhero and villain characters visited Hopkins Academy and F.W. Gross Magnet Elementary School on Thursday during a statewide tour. The team is part of the Texas Department of Transportation's Don't Mess With Texas campaign, which cooperated with Victoria's environmental services department to spread its no-litter-tolerated attitude to the Crossroads.

"Some of our biggest helpers are kids like you," the program's emcee, Whitney Weathersby, told the kids. "Isn't it great to know the Litter Force is out there backing you up?"

The half-hour performance boasted music and dancing, and it featured more than one instance of the Evil Trash villains trying to mess with Texas.

At one point, Weathersby and two Hopkins students found themselves in an oversized cardboard car with the menacing green can, Pop Top, and his sidekick, Chipinator the chip bag.

When the trash villains tried to toss litter out of the car window, students were quick to reprimand them.

"Don't mess with Texas," they shouted.

Students shared stories about times they've stopped a friend or family member from littering, and several were recognized for helping out with the school's recycling program. One was fifth-grader Brianna Gonzales.

"I wanted it to look clean and not let people think we had a dirty school," she said about volunteering to recycle.

Her classmate, Darren Ferretiz, jumped on board, too, especially after he learned littering was a crime.

"I learned when you litter, you'll have a consequence," he said.

Since then, Darren said he's had no problem telling people they don't have a right to litter when he sees them tossing out trash.

The students laughed at the battles between the Litter Force and Evil Trash, and they cheered when Bolt captured Pop Top to jail him in a blue recycle bin.

"Don't mess with Texas," they repeated time and again.

In 2009, TxDOT reported spending nearly $46 million on litter pick-up costs.

But with Hopkins and F.W. Gross students as honorary Litter Force team members, the superheroes are several hands closer to a litter-free Texas.



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