At this point it is no secret that truckers and the trucking industry are the front-line warriors of the fight against the invisible foe known as COVID-19. Especially during the harshest lockdown days and even true to the present, truckers are delivering valuable goods to help people stay safe and healthy.
What may come as more of a surprise is that the average trucker is going out on the battlefield unarmed. Part of this comes early declarations being changed, such as the surgeon general saying masks were not necessary, and changed his position when new evidence emerged (we wrote about not needing a mask at the early stages of COVID-19, before it was officially a pandemic).
Whatever the case, truckers had a harder time keeping themselves safe, using cut cloth from shirts as makeshift facemasks to stay safe. That is changing, as various participants in the trucking industry are making sure truckers stay safe.
Delivering to the Deliverers
In a matter of weeks, a joint operation was able to deliver approximately 10,000 COVID-19 “care packages” to truck stops across the country. These care packages contained high-demand personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, as well as other items to keep truckers rolling, such as snacks and sunglasses.
The operation was a joint venture between Uber Freight, Real Women in Trucking (RWIT), Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders (TEAR), and numerous individual truckers delivering the goods to the truck stops.
“Just go get what you have and give it [to] them,” Desiree Wood, an owner-operator delivering some of those care packages, said in an interview. “Even if it’s not perfect. One [trucker even] came up to me and said ‘You’re giving me a gift? Do you know how long it’s been since somebody gave me a gift? I almost started crying because I know how he feels. I’ve been out on the road on Christmas and on my birthday, and for somebody to give you anything, it means something. It means something to them that somebody cares about them.”
Wood can be considered the founder of the movement. Being the founder of both RWIT and TEAR, she was able to leverage her network to deliver care packages beyond her starting states of California and Nevada, with some fellow drivers delivering in New York, Florida, and Georgia.
While many drivers are thankful for Wood’s efforts, she acknowledges that 10,000 is a small amount when compared to the millions of drivers out on the road. She hopes that her and others’ acts of kindness will motivate others to pay it forward. “…the distribution centers have gloves and masks, or at least the relationships to get them to share. That was what I really wanted to come from all of this. What we’re doing is a drop in the bucket of how many drivers are out on the road.”
If you are interested in helping their cause to make truckers’ lives easier, pandemic or not, you can always donate to TEAR, the 501c3, at their website. Having started in March of this year, this operation is their first official mission as an organization. We wish them the best of luck.
As always when driving during the coronavirus pandemic, make sure to stay safe, stay healthy, and wear your gloves (whether obtained from a care package or not) at the diesel pump.