PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Pickens County recycling centers saw an influx of traffic on Monday, after being closed for days during the holiday. Staff who worked at one site, received a surprising helping hand.

“It’s been busy all day. Non-stop, bumper to bumper traffic all day long,” said Gary Thomas, Recycling attendant at a site in Liberty. “After holidays, it’s always busy, but not this busy. I’ve never seen it this busy before.”

People who worked at the recycling centers didn’t have the day off like most.

“We knew that today, being the first work day after the holidays would be very very busy, and it’s proven to be true,” said Ken Roper, Pickens County Administrator. “We had our recycling attendants, our truck drivers, a lot of our solid waste staff, they didn’t take the normal county holiday that the other county workers would be taking today,” Roper said. “No they came to work, because we knew that the public needed this service today,” he said.

Roper was supposed to have the day off, but instead he wanted to help.

“And so I said, if you’re going to do it, I’m going to do it,” Roper said.

The administrator said he wanted to show first responders and essential workers they are not alone.

“What we’re doing today is just another example of what these county workers…these public servants, EMS, fire, police are doing on all holidays,” Roper said. “And so in a sense, this is just a way for us to say thank you,” he said.

Thomas said he was surprised to see the county administrator working with them.

“Shocked absolutely. It’s like having an extra work hand on the job. It just makes so much difference,” Thomas said. “He was not afraid to work, because he was right in there with us,” Thomas said.

A resident said Roper’s presence was a shock too.

“I think that’s good of him to do that. That’s great. Not a lot of people would even do that, especially not on the holidays and their days off,” said Patricia Porter, a resident.

Roper said he took something away from this experience.

“I’ve learned a lot today working with them and I’ve learned to really appreciate what they’re doing,” Roper said.

Some said Roper’s deed went a long way.

“It really makes a difference when you see people that are trying to show you they’re making a difference. Words are good, but they only go so far,” Thomas said. “One picture is worth a thousand words, and so it’s really been a help to us today to have him here. He’s helped us a lot, but it also encourages us, because you know, it gets discouraging whenever you’re not gaining,” he said.

“I think that’s great that everybody is helping,” Porter said.

The recycling centers will be open this week, including on New Year’s Eve. However, Roper said it will be closed on New Year’s Day.

“Thinking about the next holidays, plan ahead,” Roper said. “And maybe think about visiting the recycling centers a day or two ahead and maybe hold your garbage a day or two afterwards. This has been an experience for us, and we’re proud to do it,” Roper said. “We’re proud to offer the service, but this has taxed our capacity to the limit, as you seen.”