Trucking Keeps Delivering Thanks to America’s Unsung Heroes
Many Americans are stocking up on food, medication and cleaning supplies as they hunker down to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While most families and employees stay home, our communities continue to receive deliveries of these essential goods because of the hard work and dedication of America’s unsung heroes: the brave men and women behind the wheel of their truck.
Jesse Paez, a milk hauler, is one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the U.S. who is out on the front lines. During a segment on Good Morning America, Jesse explained how truck drivers are traveling our roads each and every day, traveling from one delivery stop to the next, to keep our stores supplied and shelves stocked in communities across the country.
A truck driver who delivers bread, D’artagnan Raspberry, told the Today Show, that he continues to deliver to ensure that communities receive their bread deliveries. With high consumer demand for bread, D’artagnan has seen that bread shelves are empty in several stores. D’artagnan said, “Every day I can deliver is the upmost importance to everyone.”
Most Americans don’t realize how essential trucks are to their lives until there is a disruption that prevents deliveries. During times of crisis, the delivery of everyday necessitates reaches a new level of importance and Americans see firsthand the essentiality of trucking and the role the industry has in keeping the U.S. supply chain strong.
The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah reported on the challenges that truck drivers are facing, such as finding open rest stops or places to eat while on the road, as well as the newfound respect that Americans have for truck drivers, which resulted after many Americans saw empty shelves at their local grocery stores when panic buying took place in March.
Truck drivers are helping each other through this crisis. In California, it was reported that food trucks are now permitted to serve meals at state rest areas. One “trucker” is providing another trucker with a convenient option to purchase a warm meal when they make a stop.
In Wapakoneta, Ohio, a restaurant, The Lucky Steer, generously offered to provide food for truck drivers at a discount or for free and told drivers that they can park in the diner’s parking lot. Bert Lancaster, a truck driver based in Pennsylvania, told Wapakoneta’s local NBC/Fox TV station that he heard about The Lucky Steer’s offer through his boss after it went viral on social media; Bert made a stop at the diner while traveling from Illinois to Virginia.
Individuals are also stepping up to show their appreciation for truck drivers by helping provide truck drivers with food and beverages while they are on the road.
Brittnie Transtrum’s husband, Brad, is a truck driver who hauls fuel to farms and gas stations from Montana to Idaho, which is where their family lives. After hearing that her husband had to travel hundreds of miles to find a place to stop for food or beverages because of restaurant closures, Brittnie started an organization, Truckers Treats, to provide bags with snacks, foods and beverages to truck drivers who are on the road. Brittnie started the organization from her own pantry. Her children have also gotten involved by decorating the bags placing thank you letters in the bags. Since Brittnie began her efforts, she has handed out over 700 bags to drivers at local truck stops in Idaho. Learn more about Brittnie’s story and Truckers Treats on Mike Rowe’s popular web series, Returning the Favor, here.
The Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa in Florida dedicated their beach to truck drivers, providing drivers with a safe ,open space to relax and unwind after a busy day. The resort used beach chairs to share a message to drivers that reads, “#TYTRUCKERS.”
To thank their drivers, Hunter Truck in Pennsville, New Jersey put together bags to hand out to their drivers as they are leaving the facility for the day. The bags are filled with items that may not be easily accessible to drivers while they are on the road during this crisis, such as water bottles and snacks.
Matt Morlachetta, who hauls water runoff from a medical tubing plant, told Charleston, West Virginia’s ABC 8, “In the 27 years of doing this, I’ve gotten more thanks over the last however long this thing has been going on than I ever have in my entire life.”
As reported by Charleston’s ABC 8, even the youngest members of our communities are finding ways to thank drivers in their neighborhood. Logan Miller, a 13-year-old, handed bagged lunches to truck drivers at a rest stop. Logan told the local TV station, “My motto is ‘if there’s not truck drivers out here, America would stop running.’”
The trucking industry is also finding ways to support their fellow essential workers and give back to their community.
In Massachusetts, Advantage Truck Group (ATG) is supporting a new program, Food for Frontliners, which provides support and assistance to those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. ATG is donating food and gift cards from local restaurants, and helping transport the donations to local food pantries, healthcare facilities, and fire and police departments throughout central Massachusetts to provide lunches for essential workers on the front lines, and help meet increased demand for meals at local food pantries. As part of the Food for Frontliners program, ATG recently donated pizza and gift cards to the overnight nurses and cleaning staff at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Arizona-based truck driver, Mel Israel, told the local Fox TV station in Phoenix, “I feel we’ve always been important, but people don’t understand it because ‘you’re just a truck driver,’ but when things start shutting down they realize the importance of our job.”
On NPR, John Lex, a truck driver for Walmart, shared about the “amazing” recognition that he and other truck drivers receive from the motoring public while on the road through “thumbs up, fist pumps and signs on the highway thanking truckers.” During the interview, John, who has been driving for over 35 years, said, “This is what we do each and every day…We’re not doing anything different, but it’s just really cool to be recognized.”
As John Lex said, truck drivers’ jobs may not have changed, but an industry that is often overlooked and goes unrecognized is now receiving the recognition it deserves. In fact, most Americans don’t know that the industry employees 7.7 million Americans who each do their part to keep the supply chain strong.
The Lee family, which operates Lee-Smith Inc., a family-run logistics company in Chattooga, Tennessee, are some of the industry employees working behind the scene to ensure deliveries are completed by finding a company to haul goods that need to be delivered. The family explained their role in the supply chain during an interview with a local TV station and reminded viewers that truck drivers are essential workers out on the front lines.
Every day as a truck driver makes his or her deliveries, each truck driver has a strong pride in their job because they know they’re delivering the goods that keep America moving forward, whether it’s in times of crisis and year-round.
Bill Hambrick, a truck driver, told Fox News in an interview that now is a proud time to be a professional truck drivers. When asked about the pressure for delivering lifesaving goods, such as medical devices and prescriptions, Bill said, “It is a proud moment for the American trucking industry and the professional driver to have the kind of pride it takes to help America through this crisis.”