Post Date - Dec 16, 2021
What kind of impact are you making on the next generation? That’s what Averitt driver Angela Lecomte wants you to think about. She says that one of the most rewarding things she has done throughout her professional driving career is take part in the Trucker Buddy Program.
“It helps our youth learn more about our country, about where products, their food and clothing are coming from,” says Angela. “Most people just go to the store to buy it without thinking about how it got there. It all has to come by truck somehow and I think it’s so important for kids to understand how it all works.”
Trucker Buddy is similar to a pen pal program, pairing professional drivers with a classroom or school. The students are usually in second-eighth grade, Angela says, although this year she has a first-grade class. Throughout the year, the students exchange letters and emails with their Trucker Buddy as she travels around the country. Angela has been working with the same teacher from Healthy Learning Academy in Newberry, FL for the last seven years.
“Working with the same teacher year after year helps to build a rapport,” explains Angela. “At the beginning of every year, we come up with a game plan to try and teach the kids about geography, math and history throughout the United States.”
Angela uses a stuffed triceratops as her learning tool. Most of her letters are written from the dinosaur’s point of view. Every year, the students vote on the dinosaur’s name. This year, her name is “Roxy.” Angela has the class’s letters sent to her home. Sometimes her spouse will read them to her and other times she’ll wait to read them until she gets home.
“I love the kids’ letters. They’re very open and honest about their opinion,” she laughs. “I even had one student correct my misspellings one time. I thought that was awesome.”
Her letters to the kids include photos of crops so the kids can see where different food is grown, farm trucks with animals, and other interesting things she sees on her route, which takes her to unique locations throughout the southern United States. Pre-COVID, Angela also stopped by the school in person once a year to visit with the kids. She loves seeing students from previous years recognize her in the hallways, and many parents have told her how much the program meant to their family, even years later. Visiting the school is something Angela hopes she’ll be able to do again soon.
“I also like to send treats from the different regions I travel to like peanuts from Virginia. The kids love that,” she says.
Angela started working with Trucker Buddy for the kids, of course, but she says she’s gotten a lot out of the program herself, too.
“Honestly, being part of the Trucker Buddy program has helped me be a better driver,” she explains. “I’m more aware of kids in general. More aware of the cars and families around me and how I need to prioritize safety on the road with the general public. My granddaughter is 6 and I would hope that being a truck driver, people would want to be safer around her too.”
Drivers who are interested in being a Trucker Buddy can head to the Trucker Buddy website to apply. You’ll need to go through a background check since you’ll be working with children. Once you’re all signed up, you’ll be assigned to a school or class. If you already know of a class who would like to sign up for a Trucker Buddy, you can request to be paired with them.
“We need more Trucker Buddies out here. I’d love to get more Averitt drivers and associates involved,” adds Angela. “This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
Giving back to the communities we serve and live in has always been a huge part of what we stand for here at Averitt. Our annual Team Up Community Challenge encourages our associates to volunteer their time with clothing, food and toy drives, litter cleanups, blood donations, and more. In 2020, Averitt associates served over 5,000 hours helping 118 organizations. Our employee-giving organization, Averitt Cares for Kids, donates funds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and other causes that improve and save the lives of children.
If you’d like to hear more about how to get involved at Averitt, give us a call today!