MONROE, N.C. — During this national crisis, the delivery of food and fuel is keeping us all going. That means the trucking industry is more important than ever. Many drivers are going the extra mile to make sure store shelves get restocked.
Life on the road has not slowed down — if anything it's sped up. Big rig drivers are facing some real challenges as they try to do crucial jobs during this pandemic.
Saturday, community members in Monroe helped lift a burden off their shoulders — providing food. One driver, Howard Eskenazi, took a well-deserved break at a rest stop in Monroe Saturday.
"It's been hard for a lot of truckers," Eskenazi said.
The stop is just a temporary pause for him, as he's working in an industry not stopped by the coronavirus.
"You drive 11 hours, work 14 hours a day," Eskenazi said.
These days, the road has gotten increasingly rocky. Rest stops have been shuttered, and restaurants are now closed except for takeout and drive-thru.
"They don't have restrooms to go to, they're using porta-potties," Fred Culbertson said.
But some ugly obstacles were outshined by the light of human compassion.
"Thank you for what you're doing, we support you 110%," Culbertson said.
For Culbertson, helping America's truckers came as a sense of duty.
That's why he started a GoFundMe page called "Hot meals for our truckers." As more money comes in, more meals will be served, as often as possible.
"Where would we be without them," he said. "We'd be sitting at home starving to death."
Culbertson will be helping to provide meals to truckers at the Monroe rest stop.
"In this moment in our country in this crisis, I can't really think of people more important," Culbertson said.
These truckers, on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I use hand sanitizer as much as I can, everywhere I go, everywhere I touch something," Brian Seacrest said.
He says he pumps hand sanitizer for safety, then pumps out food, medicine, and clothing to anxious shoppers who are buying household goods in bulk.
"Buy what you need, don't buy all the extra stuff," Seacrest said. "Companies are hiring contractors they're so behind. If you buy your normal load, there won't be any problems."
In the meantime, drivers hitting the road to deliver much-needed goods while their families wait out this health crisis.
It's a reminder of the personal sacrifices drivers are making. Volunteers will supply meals at that bus stop in Monroe for as long as they can.
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