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Walks serve several purposes

EDDICETON — During the last few years, a Franklin Countypreacher has been keeping a four-mile stretch of Vito Road cleanwhile serving another purpose as well.

When Reverend J.L. Touchstone, 70, underwent triple bypasssurgery two and a half years ago, he was told he needed to exercisemore. But Touchstone wanted to do more with his exerciseprogram.

“I started walking every day and picking up cans along the way,”he said.

Touchstone, a lifelong resident of Franklin County, heads outeach evening from his home on Vito Road and walks at least twomiles either west or east, armed with a bag for his aluminumcans.

He also uses a stick that has a nail in one end to help him pickup the cans, which litter the roadways daily. Touchstone says eventhough he picks up cans each evening, the banks and ditches arequickly filled with aluminum cans and trash again.

“I probably pick up 40-50 cans a day on my couple of mile walk,”said Touchstone.

Touchstone usually gives his collections to his disabledbrother, who in turn takes the cans to a recycling center where thecans can be turned in for money.

Touchstone, who has been a pastor for over 40 years, believeshis daily efforts have many benefits.

“It’s a little finance for the disabled, and it’s exercise forme,” he said. “And of course, it gets some trash off the publicroadways.”

Although his cleaning efforts began before his triple bypasssurgery, with an occasional trip down the road, it was not theenergetic effort he has now.

“I picked up cans for two or three years just to pass the time,”he said.

Touchstone, who has been the pastor of Clay Hill Church of Godin Amite County for six years, puts his faith in God to protect himas he walks along the busy road.

“I feel safe. Most of the cars move over, except when there’sanother car coming, then I move over,” he said.

He sees his trips along the roadway as a time of socializing aswell, making sure to wave to each passing vehicle. He does notalways recognize the motorist, but he raises his hand just the samein hopes of making someone smile.

Touchstone has plans to continue his daily walks for manyyears.