Moving into a new neighborhood in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Patty Friedman was feeling lonelier than ever, until her UPS driver, Anthony Gaskin, came on the scene. With a bright smile and a kind word, he transformed her dark days into opportunities for joy, and so Patty decided to host a surprise “thank you” parade to give some of that joy right back to him — and touched millions of hearts in the process!
Patty Friedman closed her front door, gazing out fondly as her neighborhood UPS driver, Anthony Gaskin, made his way across her lawn.
As his big brown truck rumbled to life, Patty felt a surge of joy in her heart — something that, for the Richmond, Virginia, transplant, had been in short supply lately. Having moved into her new home during the pandemic, Patty had been feeling isolated since the lockdown had begun. Although a few new neighbors had come by, most were sheltering in place, so Anthony had become one of the only bright spots in her day. And with packages arriving almost every day, Patty and Anthony had become fast friends, his kind manner and devotion to his work a balm to her soul.
It’s like Santa Claus is coming whenever he drives up, Patty reflected as she left her house for a walk that afternoon. He’s made this experience so much easier on me … I just wish I could find a way to thank him. Gazing around at her neighbors’ houses, she thought about how many lives Anthony had touched on her street alone — and suddenly, a flash of inspiration struck.
A Celebration of Kindness
Patty was buzzing as a plan to celebrate Anthony took shape in her mind. Opening Facebook, she posted about Anthony and tried to gauge if her neighbors would be interested in honoring him. As comments began flowing in, Patty knew she was onto something, and soon, she’d come up with a date and a place to honor Anthony with a parade of cars lining his route.
“Make it loud! ‘ Patty encouraged revelers. “I’ll put a basket on my porch if you want to give him a card or a tip, but bring banners and noisemakers too!” As more people got involved in the surprise, including Anthony’s supervisors, Patty knew it would be a celebration to remember.
Delivering Love Across the World
The day of Anthony’s thank-you parade dawned crystal clear as his supervisors devised the perfect ruse to get him to the street: a customer complaint. But as Anthony came down the road, instead of finding an angry customer, he found cars honking and people cheering.
“We wanted to show you how much you mean to us!” Patty explained, running up to his truck. And with the joyous shouts and tears of each person filling his heart, Anthony felt overwhelmed.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just living by what my parents taught me: to treat everyone the way I want to be treated.” But it was clear Anthony’s actions meant much more as his simple story became one of the most shared viral videos in history.
Joining Together to Make a Difference
And Patty and Anthony have decided to use their newfound fame to do more good by donating the proceeds from their interviews to the local Chesterfield Food Bank.
“Anthony was a silver lining in a dark moment of my life,” Patty shares. “But I was the lucky one that something so simple to pull together would allow me to begin to feel at home and part of this community.”
Patty explains that her desire to gather people together to thank Anthony was all about showing gratitude for his daily kindness. “If this story brings you joy, Anthony and I ask that you please consider a donation to your own local food bank,” she says. “It takes all of us to make the difference and when we join together, we can!”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.