By Amy Perry, Fort Lee Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. – A group of Fort Lee spouses created daily care packages to show appreciation for Prince George County School District bus drivers during Spirit Week Oct. 19-23.

After hearing from the bus operators how stressful the current driver shortage was for them during a school board meeting in October, Frenchi Jones, a Fort Lee spouse, felt the community needed to show its support.

“I heard the bus drivers describe the toll the shortage was having on their relationships with parents and students, as well as how it was affecting them emotionally and physically,” said Jones. “I took to social media and posted the information I collected from the meeting, including the idea of showing appreciation to them. Many Fort Lee wives were immediately on board and began coming up with ideas to honor the drivers daily during PGS Spirit Week.”

More than 30 spouses got involved in the project and helped create 70 care packages for the drivers each day of spirit week. Treats included muffins, hot cocoa, honeybuns, granola bars, packages of gum and donuts. The group brought the goodie bags to the transportation office, usually before the drivers started their routes at 5:30 a.m.

Stephanie Lamm, one of the PGCSD bus drivers, said she was touched by the thoughtfulness showed by the wives’ group.

“The first day we had no idea they had done this,” she said. “I was in the bus garage getting repairs and saw the muffins, along with a note to the bus drivers from the Fort Lee group.

“After that each day there would be a message put out on our radios, saying there were more snacks in the office from the group,” Lamm continued. “It put a smile on my face, and a warm feeling in me each time I heard it. I believe every driver felt the same way.”

After the week of treats, Lamm reached out to Jones to thank the group for their generosity, and said “I am one of the many drivers that got to enjoy the thoughtful treats your group gave us last week. I just wanted to tell you how much we all greatly appreciate (the group) thinking of us. We all looked forward to each day with anticipation of the next surprise. It was like a week full of surprises from our own secret Santas.”

Jackie Raeuchle, a spouse of a Marine at Fort Lee, got involved in the project because she also felt the bus drivers were underappreciated.

“It cannot be an easy job when you might have to deal with children who don’t listen or respect authority, plus try to concentrate on driving a large vehicle to get these children safely to school and back home again,” she said. “We, as parents, can do more than say thank you. These little goodies were a small gesture of thanks for keeping our children safe to and from school. It is nice to feel appreciated once in awhile.”