Professional truck driver Kevin Cooper found a unique way to help fellow drivers and other frontline workers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a time when many were struggling to find personal protective equipment, he and his wife, Kimberly, took matters into their own hands by making protective face masks and handing them out for free to people who needed them.
“We didn’t ask for any donations,” Cooper told Transport Topics. “We didn’t ask for any of the costs back. We just did what God says we’re supposed to do and helped others. That’s what you’re supposed to do, especially in a time like this when you have two options. You can become selfish and be in it for yourself, or you can jump in and help people. We’re all in this together fighting this virus.”
Cooper, 45, was born and raised in Santa Rosa, Calif.
He has worked as a driver in various jobs since obtaining his commercial driver license in 2006.
Cooper eventually settled into his current role at driver staffing firm Centerline Drivers, which brought him in as part of its mobile team in June 2018.
Since then, the company has sent him on numerous assignments with his wife by his side. They often stay in hotels, but when he is not on a work assignment, they reside in Columbia, S.C.
Centerline Drivers has 36 local branches with headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. The company had 3,572 drivers as of 2019.
Cooper and his wife were in West Virginia when the pandemic hit. (Centerline Drivers)
Cooper is currently driving for Centerline client LB&B Associates, a facilities management and logistics company.
When the pandemic began to take hold in the United States, Cooper and his wife were staying at a hotel while he was on assignment distributing liquor throughout West Virginia.
They noticed the few hotel workers there were having trouble getting protective equipment.
“We got here in the middle of March,” Cooper said. “There were three people here total for probably about a month and a half. The workers behind the counter did not have protective face masks, and neither did we. You couldn’t get them anywhere. You couldn’t get them online. It was about a three- to five-month wait on Amazon.”
But when JoAnn Fabrics craft stores in the area started advertising free, do-it-yourself mask assembly kits, Cooper and his wife decided to step up and help.
“They looked around and saw that people were kind of afraid. People in the area were scared,” Centerline Drivers Service Director Sheila Castaneda told TT. “COVID was hitting hard, and people didn’t even know where it was headed yet at that point. Kevin decided since it was so hard to find masks that he and his wife, Kim, were going to make some masks themselves.”