Photo: Daniel Nava
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Five good things that happened in trucking this week – May 15

May 15, 2020
While states begin to reopen, bringing some hope and others continued stress, the trucking community remains as constant as ever during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Today is a big day for certain states across the country. Stay-at-home orders expired today in Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico and Vermont, while other states like Wisconsin and Nevada opened earlier this week. In other states, such as New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where the COVID-19 virus had the biggest impact in the United States, re-opening will come in phases.

While this gives some people hope, it gives others continued anxiety and stress. Despite this, the trucking community remains as constant as ever during the pandemic. Here are five good things that happened in trucking this week.

PineAire Truck sparked Nurse Appreciation Month

Dave Bloom, owner of PineAire Truck, has always been committed to helping his community. He wanted to show how much he appreciates the nurses in his area of Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he had no idea that his support would turn into a national campaign.

It began with the goal of wanting to recognize nurses, but he wanted to include local businesses as well. Bloom's plan was to have people post on the PineAire Facebook page with the name of their favorite nurse. Winners would be picked out of a hat every Friday for one month, and they would receive a $100 gift card to their favorite restaurant. This way, both communities – nurses and local businesses – would be recognized.

But over the four-week period, the PineAire nurse appreciation program grew beyond what Bloom imagined. It grew from three nurses a week to seven the second week and 18 nurses the third week. By the fourth week, 22 nurses were being chosen. As news spread, area New York businesses started to contribute the cost of the gift certificate – ending with $5,000 to 50 deserving nurses.

During the month of April, other businesses across the country picked up the program and started adapting it for their own community. This viral campaign has now grown to more than 15 states, including Iowa, Colorado and Indiana.

“In the midst of this crisis, we wanted to show appreciation for the nurses who have been putting themselves on the front lines as well as local restaurants that have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Bloom. “I encourage any business to take this idea and make it their own to say thank you to nurses or any first responders in your area.”

FedEx driver and his pups cheer up communities on the road

FedEx driver Daniel Nava started working in the transportation industry as a package handler in a warehouse after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. When a fellow Army veteran who works as a contractor asked if he was interested in driving, Nava jumped at the opportunity.

“My favorite part of being on the road is that after 14 years in the military, I just couldn’t see myself working in a cubicle or in an office,” said Nava. “And this job of driving and running around makes the time go by, keeping my anxiety is at zero.”

One major part of keeping his mental health at peace are his two dachshund dogs, Chorizo and Cocoa, who have joined Nava as fellow delivery pups on the road.

“The first time I brought my pups with me was right after my small female Cocoa was attacked by a coyote right outside our apartment,” Nava explained. “We didn’t want to take her to day care and risk her getting hurt, and the first day was rainy, so I brought their raincoats with them. That day, we happened to take a picture with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause. Some of the people that were walking by the shopping center thought it was the funniest thing in the world.”

Since then, the pups have become a regular part of Nava’s routine on the road. Since the start of the pandemic, Nava has even gone the extra mile to bring smiles to the faces within his community.

“I very much enjoy having them with me. It gives me a sense of relief knowing that they can play and run and bark as much as they want,” Nava added. “I did make uniforms for them to try to bring a smile to anyone who sees them during these difficult times. I think driving during the pandemic has it’s pros and cons, less traffic but at the same time, it’s kind of eerie and sad.”

Follow the on-the-road adventures of Nava and his pups, Chorizo and Cocoa on their Instagram.

Goodwill South Florida made 20,000 masks for essential Ryder employees

Goodwill South Florida has converted a portion of its sewing operations to manufacture 20,000 masks for employees at Ryder System Inc. to wear as they fight against COVID-19.

“James Ryder was one of three founders of Goodwill some 60 years ago, so when we got the call from Ryder asking if we could help produce scarce personal protective equipment for their employees, we immediately sprang into action,” said David Landsberg, CEO of Goodwill South Florida.

When Goodwill celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019, both companies announced a multi-year partnership and established the “Ryder Apparel Manufacturing Division” at Goodwill South Florida’s headquarters. Inside the facility, people with disabilities and other barriers to employment typically manufacture U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force uniforms, as well as interment flags for military veterans.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the operations have been shuttered, but Goodwill recently opened a portion of its production capabilities to produce much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and frontline workers. The masks for Ryder are made with camouflage on the outside, a softer fabric on the inside, and elastic ear loops.

“The men and women of Ryder are working day and night to make sure the essential products and services get to where they need to be for all of us and our families during this challenging time,” said Heather Gatley, vice president and deputy general counsel for Ryder, and a member of the board of directors for Goodwill South Florida. “We are thankful for the expertise of Goodwill in being able to quickly ramp up their sewing operations to make face masks to further protect the health and safety of our truck drivers, warehouse workers, technicians in the shop, and rental counter employees.”

About the Author

Catharine Conway | Digital Editor

Catharine Conway previously wrote for FleetOwner with a Master of Science in Publishing degree and more than seven years’ experience in the publishing and editorial industries. Based in Stamford, Conn., she was critical to the coordination of any and all digital content organization and distribution through various FleetOwner and American Trucker channels, including website, newsletters, and social media. 

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