Things might be picking up for Wesley Truax -- he did, after all, hang on to a job with Kroger after the Columbus Square Shopping Center store closed -- but he's definitely picking up things for his community.

Things might be picking up for Wesley Truax -- he did, after all, hang on to a job with Kroger after the Columbus Square Shopping Center store closed -- but he's definitely picking up things for his community.

Truax, 28, is the first, and so far only, resident to respond to an appeal from Keep Columbus Beautiful officials in early February asking people to take on litter cleanup in 10 specific stretches of East Dublin-Granville Road under the Adopt-an-Area program.

It's nothing new for the Granville Manor North resident. In fact, his litter-collection efforts, which stretch back to at least 2006, far exceed the requirements for participation in Adopt-an-Area: a two-year commitment to pick up trash twice a year.

As far back as high school, Truax said last week, the appearance of state Route 161, one of the main gateways into the Northland area, began to trouble him.

"I got tired of seeing the garbage topped up along the highway," he said. "I could tell the way it detracted from the area."

The Columbus native, whose parents, Larry and Cathy, lived off Sinclair Road until he was 3 and then moved to their current residence on Hampstead Lane in May 1987, began going out in the mild winter of 2006 to pick up trash from different sections of the road.

"Then I just kind of continued on when the Community Cleanups came in the spring," Truax said.

"He's a machine when it comes to that," Dave Cooper, chairman of the Northland Area Business Association SR-161 Task Force, said of Truax and his volunteer efforts.

The group organizes routine Northland Community Cleanup Days from early spring through late fall. The first one this year took place April 21.

Truax, who began working as a bagger at Kroger when he was 16 and is now an assistant department head for general merchandise at the Olentangy River Road location, said perhaps his dislike for litter comes from time he spent with his grandmother, who lived just south of Morse Road.

"She was kind of particular," he said.

And, oh, did she hate trash.

"Sometimes people look at things and don't notice things as much or pay attention to things as much," Truax said. "Some people choose not to care."

Under his grandmother's influence, he chose to care.

"I just think his attitude is refreshing for one his age," Cooper said.

The Northland Community Council-sponsored cleanups are held every six weeks or so, always on a Saturday. That sometimes doesn't mesh with the work schedule for Truax.

"Usually, he's working Saturday, so he can't make our regular cleanup, so what he does on his own is to go out on his day off and pick up litter," Cooper said. "He's also good at talking to other neighborhood groups about keeping their area clean and looking good, and how it's better for all of us."

Truax is also not shy, Cooper added, about approaching apartment complex managers to urge them to keep areas around Dumpsters free of litter.

In his pursuit of cleanliness, Truax said he has picked up tries, lots of plastic hubcaps, parts of headlights, sections of vehicles, plastic cutlery galore, cell phone parts, numerous umbrellas and plenty of garments.

"Not underwear," he hastened to say. "A little bit of everything under the sun."

Truax had to think about it when asked what he might say to someone he saw throwing trash out of a vehicle along his patch of Route 161.

"It would depend upon the mood I was in," he admitted. "I guess I would try to keep my cool. I would think I would inform them of the fact that if you're tossing out your trash, it's going to be a volunteer person taking their time to pick it up. Otherwise, it's going to stay out there along the highway.

"If you don't want your neighborhood trashy, don't toss the trash out."