While Otis Lapides’ mother Kimberly knew her son loved trucks, she didn’t realize how fascinated he was with the garbage truck until she started staying home more during the pandemic.

Lapides, along with her friend Rebecca Labarba and her son TJ, began going for walks on Thursday following the garbage truck through their neighborhood of Huntington Beach, sometimes up to two miles. Lapides said the driver, Alfonso Arroyo, “always waved his hand and smiled warmly at the children.”

  • Neighborhood kids greet residential garbage truck driver Alfonso Arroyo in Huntington Beach, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Otis Lapides, 2, and his mother, Kimberly Lapides, carry a toy garbage truck donated by Republic Services in Huntington Beach, CA on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Otis Lapides loves trucks and fell in love with the garbage truck during the pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Otis Lapides, 2, plays with a squishy garbage truck outside his home in Huntington Beach, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Otis Lapides loves trucks and fell in love with the garbage truck during the pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Neighborhood kids welcome residential garbage truck driver Alfonso Arroyo to Huntington Beach, Calif., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Otis Lapides, right, loves trucks and fell in love with the garbage truck during the pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Otis Lapides, 2, and his mother, Kimberly Lapides, bid farewell to residential garbage truck driver Alfonso Arroyo in Huntington Beach, Calif. On Thursday, April 22, 2021. Otis Lapides loves trucks and fell in love with the garbage truck during the pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • 2-year-old TJ Labarba waits for residential garbage truck driver Alfonso Arroyo in Huntington Beach, Calif. On Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Otis Lapides, 2, and his mother, Kimberly Lapides, welcome residential garbage truck driver Alfonso Arroyo to Huntington Beach, Calif. On Thursday, April 22, 2021. Otis Lapides loves trucks and fell in love with the garbage truck during the pandemic. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Residential waste and recycling trucks in Huntington Beach, Calif. On Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

Two weeks ago, when Lapides stopped seeing Arroyo driving the route, she took to Instagram to see if any of the 180,000 followers of her lifestyle blog, EatSleepWear.com, knew anyone at Republic Services, the local waste and recycling company, and could help find out why their favorite driver had left.

It turns out that he had been transferred to another route. But, company executives heard about the connection he had made in the neighborhood and arranged for Arroyo to meet the children one last time on Thursday, April 22 and deliver them freebies.

Lapides said Arroyo was always ready to slow down for a photo and that “the smile on his face when he sees the kids is so nice.”