Surprise Squad honors local school bus drivers

This month, we’re thanking a group of drivers who have been weathering COVID-19 to keep children safe to and from school.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:53 PM EST
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(WGGB/WSHM) -- The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers’ Surprise Squad is back in action, giving back to the community. This year, it’s our cool schools focus, where we’re honoring folks in our local schools going above and beyond.

This month, we’re thanking a group of drivers who have been weathering COVID-19 to keep children safe to and from school.

“This is the best batch of bus drivers I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” said retired bus driver Margaret Cresswell.

Cresswell said nominating this group for the Surprise Squad’s Cool Schools was a no brainer.

“Nobody takes time off. They are always there. I love these guys,” Cresswell added.

She said this is a special group of drivers.

“I love them all and I appreciate what great drivers they are and the love they have for the kids,” Cresswell noted.

Many people working on the front lines have left their jobs, but these road warriors tell Western Mass News that was never an option.

“It’s hard to do what we do. We make sure the kids are safe. We make sure they are 6 feet apart, they have a mask on. But, we have been doing it for 2 years now and we know what to do, and we do it,” said Robert Piette, also known as ‘Captain Bob.’

‘Captain Bob’ said the reason he does it despite the challenges is simple.

“Because I love kids, it’s plain and simple,” Piette added.

A second grader from Southwick explained why ‘Captain Bob’ and the other drivers are so important to him.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t get home in time and I am not a pick up, so it’s good,” said Shane Macke.

All the bus drivers were told they were headed to a training, but the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers had other plans in store.

“We really want to thank you guys for doing a great job. It’s been a tough couple of years…and I appreciate you going above and beyond for your jobs and like the sign says ‘We are family.’ You have each other’s backs. Thank you so much for all you do,” said garage manager Karen Wzorek.

Thanks to the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, the drivers were given breakfast, some warm gloves and hats for those cold winter days, and a $500 check to help them with their food donations to the Southwick Food Pantry.

“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, we are so grateful for all that you do and all that you did during the pandemic, going through these tough times and conditions, and we wanted to present you with this check for the LPVEC,” said Gary Rome, president and CEO of Gary Rome Hyundai.

Carla Cosenzi, president of Country Hyundai, added, “To see them [the kids] give the cards that they made, to see the impact they made on all of the children every morning and every afternoon.”

Brian Houser, general manager of Balise Hyundai, said, “It was fantastic. These people do not get recognized that often, so to have bus drivers see how important they are to these children and the community was fantastic to see.”

To nominate who you think is deserving of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers’ Surprise Squad: Cool Schools, CLICK HERE.