MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- By now you may know about the Chesterfield street surprise heard round the world.
On December 15, hundreds of neighbors in Hallsley showered UPS driver Anthony Gaskin with lots of love.
“He is warm and almost an ambassador for the neighborhood,” Patty Friedman said. “We as a neighborhood came together.”
Like clockwork, Anthony and his signature truck showed up in the neighborhood off Old Hundred Road.
“I try to keep it consistent, so they know what time I’m coming,” Gaskin said.
He delivers everything from medicine, food, and toys.
“There were children in the neighborhood who thought of him like Santa," Friedman, who moved to Hallsley six months ago, said. "I certainly wouldn’t recommend moving in a pandemic."
Not knowing anyone during a lockdown got lonely, she admitted.
“When I first got here it didn’t feel like home so you’re isolated anyway because of COVID,” she said.
Being a new homeowner Patty said she ordered plenty on-line.
“When he would walk up the driveway it seemed like a visitor. It didn’t seem like a delivery,” she said.
Anthony served as a lifeline with a smile, not just for Patty but most everyone on his route.
“I wanted to celebrate him like he makes me feel.”
Patty knew she needed to act and show how much everyone cared for the 53-year-old driver with 16 years of deliveries under his belt.
“He is the guy who cares about me,” Friedman said. “He cares about me. And that is what I felt every time. That is sincere.”
Two months of planning went into the gesture that brought this U.S. Army veteran to tears.
“They completely fooled me. I had no idea,” Gaskin said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was just lost. At that moment I never felt like that before. So everyone was in on it except me. Everyone knew but me.”
“Everyone who missed laughing and cheering and parades there it was right out in front of them,” Friedman said.
The Hallsley Hug went viral.
“It was joyful and exciting to see how many people reacted to this in the end,” she said.
National publications and Network TV shows came calling.
“Probably after my marriage and kids this is a high number three,” Gaskin said.
But Anthony stepped into the brightest lights last month.
“I couldn’t tell anyone. Couldn’t even tell my family,” he said.
Making an appearance during the Inauguration.
“I’m just a country boy from Powhatan. A UPS driver who’d ever think I’d have the honor doing that? I would never fathom,” he said.
“Anthony changed my life. He absolutely took a home that I was trying to settle in. He made me feel at home. That is a gift,” Friedman said.
Patty and Anthony said the street surprise in December was really a call to action.
“It doesn’t take much to change someone’s day,” Friedman said. “If you really felt good about this then do something for someone else.”
The UPS tagline is a memorable one, ‘What can brown do for you?’
For Patty Friedman and Anthony Gaskin, they ask what can you do for your fellow human.
“Try to treat the next man a little nicer,” Gaskin said. “A smile, hello, or wave goes a long way.”
Like powerful stories? Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Fridays for Greg McQuade’s “I Have A Story” reports. If you know of someone Greg should feature, email him at email@example.com
You can also watch Greg McQuade's "Heroes Among Us" reports Thursdays on CBS 6 News at 6 p.m.
Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News:
Mondays: CBS 6 Gives
Tuesdays: CBS 6 Problem Solvers Investigations
🏙️ Wednesdays: Our RVA
Wednesdays: Wayne's World
🙋♀️Heroes Among Us
Thursdays: Beyond the Roster
Fridays: I Have a Story