Danielle Hernandez, wife of Sgt. Daniel Hernandez, 1st Medical Brigade, helped teach her children the importance of saving the planet March 18, as they held a small clean up outside the Clear Creek Commissary.

The mother of four, who also babysits three neighbor’s children, explained she normally takes the children to the park, but because of the quarantine, decided to do something else. She wanted them to stay safe, while also benefitting from some fresh air. Remembering beach clean ups she would participate in as a youth, she asked the children what they thought about doing a clean up in front of the commissary, as Clear Creek Road is one of the busiest streets on the installation. She said all the children cared about was helping to “save animals,” so they were excited to help out.

“Because if you didn’t, it (trash) could kill a lot of animals,” 8-year-old Stefan Hernandez said.

Hernandez explained that she always tells the children about the importance of picking up trash to help the environment and protect animals from eating something that could harm them. She explained they regularly spend five to 10 minutes daily picking up trash from their backyard, which blows into their yard due to the heavy winds. She said the clean up in front of the commissary quickly became a competition about whose bag was filled first.

“It became something fun, but also saving the planet,” Hernandez said. “Being out here, they know they’re doing it to save our

planet, our animals, getting fresh air and getting exercise, as they’re running to the next piece of trash to pick up.”

She added that they practiced safety by wearing gloves and she told the children the importance of not touching anything they shouldn’t. Instead, they were told to call for her if they came across anything dangerous or suspicious.

Hernandez has made clean ups a regular part of their schedule. Besides cleaning their backyard daily, she said they also conduct a weekly clean-up in their neighborhood. She explained to the children that even though people throw their trash into trash cans, due to the high winds in Central Texas, the trash ends up blowing away, especially during trash pick-up day.

“Every trash day, we walk the neighborhood and clean up,” she said. “It’s for our environment and helps reduce pollution.”

Hernandez said she hopes other Fort Hood families decide to do something productive with their own families, while also being safe during this time of social distancing. During their quarantine clean-up, the family ended up picking up 11 bags of trash just in front of the commissary.

“It sets an example for other people,” Hernandez concluded, “but it also teaches them (the kids) about our earth and why we should take care of it.”