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Herb’s the man

A local UPS driver has grown to be loved by so many members of the Buckingham community that citizens threw a surprise celebration in his honor Friday, Jan. 15.

Herbert “Herb” Jones, of Goochland, works as a UPS service provider out of the UPS Richmond West Center.

Jones has been working for the company for 33 years, and he’s been delivering packages in the Buckingham area for 14 years.

Throughout that time, Jones made a lasting impression on many residents. Customers often describe him as kind, caring and friendly — a person who goes the extra mile to lend a helping hand, ask about one’s day or provide a smiling face when it is needed.

Recently, Buckingham County resident Stacie Lilly, whose parents have their packages delivered by Jones, read an article about a Richmond-based UPS employee who had a surprise drive-thru celebration held in their honor. Lilly immediately thought of her many friends and family who have the utmost admiration for Jones and his work.

“I posted the article on Facebook and said, ‘You guys should do something like this for Herb,’” Lilly said.

According to Lilly, Jones’ fans across the county loved the idea. A Facebook page, “Herb’s the Man!” was created to invite members of the public to the celebration, and a plan was quickly formulated by community members and Jones’ supervisors.

On Friday morning, Jan. 15, Jones was asked by supervisor Paul Weaver to meet him at Arvon Baptist Church to grab some packages that needed to be delivered. Upon driving up to the location, Jones saw a humongous line of cars.

With so many vehicles and people around, he feared he’d accidentally stumbled upon a funeral service until he was waved through by an onlooker. Upon entering the church parking lot, he was greeted with a crowd of more than 50 people cheering and holding signs.

“I saw my name on the signs, and I said, ‘Oh my goodness,’” he recalled.

As Herb circled around the parking lot, he passed by many smiling, familiar faces of customers from across the area. People cheered, played tambourines, held signs and celebrated, all while sporting facemasks and keeping six feet of distance between them.

After parking, Herb greeted his customers and heard some speeches in his honor. His supervisors also used the event as an opportunity to award him with his 20-Year Safe Driving Award.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, Jones said the surprise celebration was an honor.

“I have a very good relationship with people, and I treat them as though they’re family as well as friends. They’re my family away from home,” he said. “I’m out here every day and I see people, and I try to spread love and joy when I see people … It makes me feel special that they would go out of their way to show their appreciation for what I do in their community.”

In the days after Jones’ celebration, praise came flooding in on the Herb’s the Man Facebook page.

Herb is amazing,” citizen Maggie Lignon said. “I had a hip replacement in 2017 and received packages that he put inside my front door so I wouldn’t have to lift anything. In 2018, I had a stroke, and again, he wouldn’t allow me to lift any packages. He is a man of honor and integrity.”

“Herb’s the man!” said New Canton resident Sandi Hawk. “Herb is always very considerate of our packages and our pets. He always has a treat for our little dog, and he remembers his name. That’s impressive considering the pets he comes across in his travels. We simply adore Herb.”

Whether it’s bringing small gifts to the children on his route, keeping his eyes on the neighborhood or just lending an ear to talk, Jones is known throughout Buckingham as a UPS driver to brag about.

Jones’ supervisors, Weaver, Shannon McKeen, Todd Petteway and Vicki Hotaling, all emphasized their respect for Jones and their admiration for the community’s celebration of his years of service.

“He is just an outstanding individual,” McKeen said. “He really connects with his customers and his community very well. He’s very kindhearted.”

“He is loved,” added Weaver. “He is a great driver. He goes out and gets it done safely, and it was just cool to see.”

“Herb is an astounding employee,” Petteway said. “He’s always real caring about his customers. He knows most of them by their first name.”

“He understands what it takes to be safe and serves his customers with kindness,” added Hotaling, “And he goes above and beyond what it takes to be a successful UPS driver.”