Even though schools will remain closed for the remainder of the year, a western Massachusetts transportation company is putting their empty vehicles to good use.
In partnership with local school districts, they are delivering supplies and meals to students in need.
Like many companies facing the ever-changing world of coronavirus, Van Pool Transportation has transformed their business model to fit the needs of the community.
“In mid-March, when everything started to unfold, we reached out to our many school districts including those in the Pioneer Valley and offered our services in any way possible,” said Kevin Hinkamper, president and CEO of Van Pool.
Hinkamper said they found the greatest need was helping school districts get supplies and meals to students who don’t have a way to get to pick-up locations.
“For those that are not able to get to the schools, the district will give us specific addresses, so we can reach each of the individual families,” said Franco Indomenico, VP of operations of Van Pool.
Indomenico said the company has set times they arrive at bus stops around the city for students to pick-up these supplies.
“Whether it’s food or these educational laptops are receiving…the feedback that we’re getting for my drivers, who are out there, is pretty rewarding,” Indomenico added.
Although this specific service is new, they said this isn’t the first time Van Pool has transformed into a makeshift delivery service.
“We do have a history of doing this before, specifically with the school district during the tornado. We also work for them during the gas explosions. We also worked with them during water main breaks,” Hinkamper explained.
They told Western Mass News that now school has been moved online for the rest of the year, their service will continue.
“I think in the next few weeks, we will actually be adding additional services as they become evident. We’re doing this in over 20 communities across the Commonwealth. The feedback has been very, very positive,” Hinkamper added.
In western Massachusetts right now, they are only delivering laptops and supplies to the Springfield school district, but will soon expand.
Their meal service, however, is already covering more of the area.
“In addition to Springfield, we have been doing food services in other communities including Holyoke, Belchertown, and the Quabbin Regional Schools District,” Indomenico noted.
Hinkamper added, “As partners with our schools and communities…we have a long-standing tradition of doing whatever it takes.”
As long as their buses aren’t carrying students, they’ll continue to help.
“As long as we’re in this together…we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Hinkamper said.