One of the positive things that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is a seemingly universal appreciation for America’s essential workers.
And, at the heart of America’s workforce are truck drivers.
These unsung heroes tend to have humility that belies just how integral they are in supporting our way of life. Scott Aronhalt has been a Walmart driver for almost 20 years. In that time, he’s seen a lot.
Recently, Scott, who works out of Walmart’s transportation office in Fort Pierce, Florida, was one of a number of drivers who helped Sam’s Club deliver fresh produce and flowers directly to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. The delivery was one of many all over the country delivering fresh food to medical workers on the front lines of this health crisis.
Scott said what he saw in the medical professionals’ eyes was inspirational. “They looked like they had just got done running a marathon,” he recalls.
But when they saw the Sam’s Club associates and drivers were there to load their cars with free produce for them and their families, they all had smiles on their faces.
“Here somebody was appreciating them for their daily grind, for doing what they do,” Aronhalt said. “I’d say they felt good to be recognized.”
Patrick Lamontagne is club manager at Sam’s Club 6217 in Miami, Florida, and he echoed Aronhalt’s sentiments, “All the first responders that work here at the Jackson Memorial Hospital, they need a relief, and we’re here to support that.”
All-in-all more than 84,000 pounds of produce was delivered by Sam’s Club across the country to support health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.
This isn’t Aronhalt’s first time supporting his community through tragedy. In 2015, he was part of the team who helped relief efforts in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. And, he’s quick to mention that this crisis is similar in a lot of ways but also different than anything anyone’s seen before.
“Not to take anything away from Katrina,” he said. “But the scale of this is enormous.”
He also said that there is a silver lining. Aronhalt believes that this whole experience will generally help people appreciate each other more.
“I do think that when this is all over, people will look at cashiers and everybody who’s out there, as far as essential workers, differently,” he said. “I think there will be more thought given to that person.”
And while he says the experience of delivering food to medical workers is rewarding and gratifying, Aronhalt humbly mentioned he was just one of many drivers helping out.
“I mean, I’m just a guy who drove a truck there. Okay. And that could have been, you know, 1,000 other guys that do the same thing,” he said. “It makes you feel good, to be able to do something for somebody.”