Waste collector and three-year-old find unlikely friendship

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - There are lots of reasons the neighborhood calls Charlie Brown a good man.

"He's not afraid to do a little extra for ya," said Eric Emmett.

"Charlie always goes above and beyond. It's not the time that he does, it's a consistent thing," added Monte Elliott.

Every stop along his garbage route comes with a story.

For years, Janice Oglesby's 85-year-old father met Brown outside every week.

"And he fell, and as he fell Charlie parked his truck in the middle of the road, jumped out to my dad and carried his frail body up and carried him inside my home," she said.

When Brown found out Elliott had a heart issue he stepped up to help.

"For the next six months, that man would not let me take the trash can from my house down the driveway, would not let me take the empty can back up. If he saw me outside he'd tell me to sit down and stay there," said Elliott.

He's known as the friendliest man in the neighborhood, but it's the family he didn't know that is making the biggest impact.

"We had never talked to him, didn't know his name," said Kristen Hancock.

Brown noticed the Hancock's trash can wasn't making it street side Wednesday mornings, so he did it himself.

"He would walk all the way up our driveway and he would get our trashcan and empty it and he would bring it back to our house and he didn't even know what was going on," said Hancock.

A simple act. But for a family spending weeks in the hospital on the verge of losing their two-year-old son Cameron to a mysterious illness, it was anything but simple.

"Our thoughts were on our son making it another night and he was really, really sick," she said.

Cameron recovered and the family needed to meet the man who was there without knowing it while his little body healed.

"The very first time we thanked him he picked Cameron up and put him in his truck and let him honk the horn and that was it, it's become a thing since then," said Hancock.

But it was Brown, without knowing it, whose heart was healing as well.

"I told his mom he's gotta be colorblind and she laughed and she said what do you mean colorblind, Charlie Brown? And I said because he don't pay no attention to me being black. Most kids will be standoffish because they're not around many black people and he wasn't like that, he was different so that touched me. And from that point I learned never to judge nothing, just from him," said Brown.

Every week, Cameron draws him pictures and anxiously greets the man he calls his best friend.

Waste Connections, the company for which Brown works even wrapped his garbage truck with a picture and a letter Cameron gave Brown to let passersby know how special their friendship is.

"It just lights me up, especially when your day is bad. I can't put it in words how it makes me feel," said Brown.

Cameron joins the neighborhood waiting for simple acts of kindness, the kind that's worth the wait.

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