It’s a difficult time to be on the road. With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to climb and food, lodging and protection like face masks increasingly hard to find, truck drivers meet challenges while also living in fear of contracting the virus. For Kevin Cooper, it was a battle he took head on.
Cooper, who drives for LB&B in Nitro, W.V., as part of Centerline’s Mobile Driver Service, saw the fear among drivers and other front-line workers as he made deliveries and went out for food. He couldn’t find masks at stores and with time on his hands at his hotel, he got to thinking about staying safe during the pandemic and how to help.
“We feel it’s productive while helping others that we come across,” he said. “Everyone is important through this time. This is a time for self-courage and devotion toward others and ourselves. I believe that we can get selfish and comfortable within our own ways and something like this can change your life for the better."
So Kevin and his wife, Kim, discussed what they could do for drivers.
“We decided to make masks when we couldn’t find any at stores while putting ourselves at risk. Because the drivers at my assignment weren't protected enough, we wanted to ensure everyone had a level of safety while working under harsh conditions,” Kevin said.
The Coopers went to a local Joann Fabric store and bought 100-percent cotton fabric in two designs and Pellon to use as a filter between two pieces of cotton fabric. With the help of the daughter of a hotel staff member, who brought a sewing machine, they got started.
“We cut the fabric 9x7 and ironed the Pellon to one side. We then sewed the two pieces inside out until secure and then flipped them,” he said. “We used elastic at seven inches and when we ran out of that, we used ribbon and Velcro to fasten them together. When we were finished with each one, we sprayed them with Lysol and placed them in two-quart bags."
The result was 25 flattened, pressed and sanitized masks. Drivers were the top priority – he handed out most of the masks at work the next day
"I think it's outstanding that he went that far above and beyond for LB&B and others that needed help,” said Paul Cline, project and logistics manager at LB&B. “We’re very proud of him and the Centerline Mobile team for keeping this contract going and keeping everyone safe.”
When word got out at the hotel, he helped out as much as he could, not wanting anyone who needed a mask to be without. Kevin now feels a little safer on the road, but more importantly, he has learned a lesson from the experience that he will take with him and is happy that he has helped a little bit in the fight against COVID-19.
“I have come to a level of awareness that I didn’t have before,” Kevin said. “It's a reminder to be safer in areas you thought you never would have to be. Seeing people in fear has been a real wakeup call and doing what we can to come together is the most important aspect in life. It's definitely something to carry in the future and never forget.”