BREWER – Kyle Alexander’s work took his nights, his weekends – and cut into his playtime.
The 9-year-old fourth-grader spent much of the spring collecting returnable bottles and cans to help workers displaced by the closing of Eastern Fine Paper Co. in January.
For his effort, the city of Brewer has named him Citizen of the Year.
“We saw in the paper that everybody got laid off,” he said last week. “My dad and I kind of did a little talking about it. I told him we should [collect bottles and cans] for the workers, so we did.”
Kyle, who was a third-grader at the time, spent his nights and weekends collecting bottles and cans with his dad, Alan Alexander.
The goal of the father-son duo was to collect $1,000. They surpassed the goal this fall.
“We mostly did it after school, on nights that my dad didn’t have to work late,” said Kyle, who estimated the pair collected for about five months. “We also spent two days at Wal-Mart, selling hot dogs and other food.”
The news that her son was chosen as the Citizen of the Year was overwhelming for Lorna Hart. “I stared crying – I was so extremely proud of him,” she said. “He was so concerned for the millworkers. Every day he would read the articles. It really touched him, and he worked hard.”
The father-son partnership turned Hart’s garage “into a recycling center” where Alan Alexander sorted and counted the bottles and cans in order to get 6 cents per returnable, instead of the normal 5 cents.
Kyle was honored at the third annual Brewer Days celebrations held Sept. 17-18.
Deputy Mayor Manley DeBeck – a displaced Eastern Fine worker – helped present Kyle with his award.
Despite the nine months since the layoffs, the workers still feel anguish over the closing, DeBeck said.
“It was a very emotional thing for me … to see this little guy standing before me,” DeBeck said Tuesday. “He did a lot of things for people he didn’t know. I’m very proud of that young man and I know all the people he helped would say the same thing.”
A real team player, Kyle plays center for the Brewer Youth Hockey Orange Squirts, for 9- to 11-year-olds, and last year raised $250 for the team.
Kyle will receive additional accolades for his achievements at the Brewer School Department’s meeting Monday.
“Kyle is a great student and is remarkable example of a ‘Community of Caring,'” the youth’s homeroom teacher, Janet Nordfors of Washington Street School, said last week.
The citizenship award came with a Howard Miller clock and a $50 gift certificate from Wal-Mart.
Kyle said he is saving to buy a PlayStation video game.
During the Brewer Days event, Wal-Mart Supercenter was recognized as the New Business of the Year and Hannaford supermarket was named Business of the Year for their “numerous contributions to the city,” Mayor Michael Celli said last week.