On seeing the “2020 Grad” signs on the lawns of people’s homes, US Postal Service worker Josh Crowell wanted to do everything to help lift the spirits of graduating high school seniors as they wouldn’t be able to walk across the stage due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
So he began leaving $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards in some of their mailboxes. “$5 isn’t much, but it’s something so that the kids can get out of the house and go get a donut and an iced coffee,” Crowell, 39, said.
Crowell also started leaving hand-written notes with gift cards, to congratulate the 2020 graduates and signed off as “your mailman Josh.”
He usually delivers mail on routes near Concord, New Hampshire, and has handed out at least 25 gift cards till now and keeps more cards in a lunchbox in case he sees more 2020 graduation signs.
New Hampshire announced school closures for the remainder of the school year in mid-April, but the state has not yet announced a decision regarding the plan for schools in the fall of 2021.
The state is under a modified stay-at-home order, called “Stay at Home 2.0” which is in effect until May 31. “You are healthier at home. We want you to stay at home,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said at a recent news conference.
On May 11, barbers and hair salons were allowed to reopen, with certain social distancing restrictions. Retail shops also opened on May 11 to customers but are limited 50% occupancy. Restaurants can reopen on May 18, but only with outdoor seating options.
Crowell, has been working throughout the pandemic as he is an “essential worker” under Sununu’s Emergency Order No. 17. He began working for the post office in November of 2019, and his routes usually run through towns including Concord, Bow and Loudon.
He has received notes from seniors in response to his gift cards thanking him for his kindness and for his continued work as an essential worker during the pandemic, Crowell said.
One of the thank you cards that Crowell received reads in part: “This year has not been easy for most, but I think being able to make someone’s day is important. … Thank you for being an essential worker, it means a lot.”
Crowell has two daughters, and knows the importance of seniors graduating on the stage alongside their classmates as his younger daughter graduated high school in 2018.
“She had some issues in school learning-wise so she struggled,” Crowell said. “To know that she was able to graduate and walk across the stage and get her diploma was very meaningful for her and for me. To know that the students for 2020 are not going to be able to do that is hard and sad.”
Crowell spent from out-of-pocket to buy the gift cards, he said. “I’m not very well-off myself, but I look at it as, if I put a smile on somebody’s face, then I will do it.”