Michigan Toddler Inspires Acts of Kindness for Professional Drivers at Pilot Co. Travel Centers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One mom and son duo have found a way to thank professional drivers at Pilot Co. who have been crucial in keeping America moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While practicing social distancing, Carla and two-year-old Luke from Smith Creek, Mich., have come to enjoy watching professional drivers come and go.

"He loves looking at the big trucks and the drivers always honk and wave back," said Carla. "It really brightens our day."

Seeing how much a simple honk and wave brightened Luke's day, Carla decided to show her gratitude for these hard-working men and women by purchasing 20 Pilot gift cards for the team members at Store #596 in Port Huron, Mich., to hand out to professional drivers as them came in to make their purchases.

"I thought a gift card would be helpful so that they could grab a bite to eat or whatever they needed," Carla said. "We just wanted to show them that people care. These truck drivers are out there every day to bring us supplies."

Carla's act of kindness moved several team members and professional drivers to tears, as some were experiencing financial struggles or had been separated from their families for weeks on end due to COVID-19. One professional driver even continued to pay it forward for other drivers, buying additional gift cards.

"This has been such an uplifting experience for my team and myself. With all that is going on in the world, it is easy to forget how important kind words and gestures are for so many. We never have any way of knowing what is going on with anyone else. Each of us has realized how important we are in the lives of our drivers and our work family as well," said Michele, an associate at Store #596. "For our extended Pilot Family, Team 596 would like to you to know how important you are to our guests. Our smiles mean the world to them, and helping drivers to feel at home in our stores is our gift we give to them daily. We are all in this together, and we will come out of the other side of this stronger, humbled, and more appreciative.

"To all drivers — we would like you to know how much we appreciate what you do daily — not just in times of crisis, but daily. We want to do whatever it takes to help your day go great, and let you know we care about you. Please stop by Store 596 in beautiful Port Huron, Michigan, and we will make sure you have a smile on your face when you leave!"

According to Pilot Co., since sharing Luke and Carla's story online, the travel center operator has received several requests from others also wanting to thank professional drivers. 

For those interested in doing something similar, gift cards can be purchased in-store, where Pilot Co. team members will then handle passing them out safely to professional drivers. A list of locations is available here.

Based in Knoxville, Pilot Co. operates more than 750 retail locations in 44 states.