It has been a rough school year for Lee County school bus drivers. They started the year short-staffed, and dozens of drivers quit over Christmas. Now, several call out sick every day because of COVID-19.
One driver agreed to tell her story and asked that she remain anonymous.
“It’s crazy. It’s just, it’s the craziest I’ve seen in 12 years,” the bus driver said. “Most of it are either people retiring or people quitting. So with that happening, we have to cover routes. You know, every we’re trying to cover everybody’s route.”
Drivers feel overworked, underpaid, and sometimes unappreciated.
“There’s nobody there to back us. To help us we have nowhere to turn in terms of help.”
A group of concerned neighbors said they wanted to help.
Marsha Ellis and Crystal Johnson said they’ve heard drivers speak out at school board meetings, which inspired them to do something.
“It’s one thing to be sympathetic. It’s another thing to try to work towards a solution with positive action,” said Ellis.
“We want to do anything we can as a community to let them know they are supported, that there are people who are concerned, and we want to do anything we can to just make life a little bit better,” said Johnson.
The two raised money to buy gift cards for drivers to places like Walmart, Winn-Dixie, and olive garden.
The bus driver said, “when we get anything like that, we are also very grateful and it just helps us so much, you know, like gift cards at Christmas time, they help with presents or food.”
They’re raising money for more gift cards right now to help drivers with things like groceries and gas.
Johnson said, “whatever we can do to make life a little less stressful, that is what we want to do.”
A small token to show immense appreciation for our bus drivers
Those neighbors also received gift card donations from local businesses.
They plan to keep fundraising to keep handing out gift cards, so every Lee County schools bus driver feels appreciated.