Santa loads his sleigh only one night a year, while delivery workers across the country deliver packages all year long.
UPS driver Anthony Gaskin has been delivering packages for 16 years in Chester County, Virginia. He often delivers more than 180 packages a day.
In the spirit of the holiday season, resident Patty Friedman wanted to express her gratitude for all of Gaskin’s hard work, from the pandemic through to the holidays. She said he is best known for his comforting wave and smile when dropping off packages.
“He kept being an uplifting, positive, warm and caring part of our lives, without even walking in our doors,” said Friedman. “Anthony was a constant. He made things feel more normal.”
Friedman said she organized a surprise for Gaskin. She said she thought, “Maybe I could get a few people to get together and we could surprise him [while he] drive[s] by.”
She said she sent a note to neighbors asking them if they’d like to thank him.
“It really stands out when you recognize the risk that he put himself through, the fact that the volume of boxes he was delivering was more at a holiday level,” she said. “It was [to show] gratitude and appreciation for simple acts of kindness on his part.”
The response was overwhelming. On Dec. 15, more than 100 people showed up along Gaskin’s delivery route to pay tribute to him.
“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at first,” said Gaskin. “It felt like my heart was going to jump out of my body. To tell you the truth, I'm not used to that kind of attention. So it was a total surprise.”
Neighbors wrote signs and shared well wishes. Gaskin said that he was overcome with emotion in the moment.
“I was in shock. My heart was overjoyed,” he said.
Today, Gaskin is back on his route and he has a message for others this holiday season.
“During the holiday season and during this pandemic, I like to remind everybody that a lot of people out here are a lot less fortunate than we are. Reach out and try to help somebody else during this holiday season,” he said. “In the world, regardless of what's going on … people still genuinely care.”