RICHMOND, Va. -- When he retired from professional trucking in 2009, Ralph Ferreia had logged countless miles.
But sitting in a recliner just wasn't the right fit. So, the 71-year-old returned to his favorite seat.
“We have fun. We have fun together," said Ferreia. "It’s indescribable. You can’t describe how you feel. Every single day is different.”
The native of the Dominican Republic drives a school bus for Henrico County Schools.
“I care about the children very much," he said.
Because of the pandemic, there are days when Ferreia's bus is void of students. But the driver shuttles an important haul, nonetheless.
“Today we will be distributing food," said Ferreia.
On Wednesdays, he delivers lunches to students who are distant learning. This gentle giant does not want to see his students go hungry.
Mary Brooks said her co-worker is always on time and never misses a day.
"He loves the children. It is like he is their grandfather," said Brooks. “He goes above and beyond what he is supposed to do. This I am sure of. He is a good person. They couldn’t find a better man. They couldn’t find a better man.”
Ferreia knows his students depend on him five days a week.
“It is nice to see their friendly faces," he said. “I have fun. I enjoy it.”
For this former professional trucker, the students are his most precious cargo. The food is a close second.
“(They're like) family. Like family. Family who could use my help," said Ferreia.
The lunches fill their stomach and fuel their minds. Ferreira's deliveries always come with an extra helping of love from his heart.
“In many ways it is very rewarding because you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your life," he said.
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