Gregory Watkins has been working for UPS for 30 years. For the past 13 of those years, he's been driving the same route in Smithtown, New York, on Long Island.
"I like what I do, and just being in that area and knowing so many people in that area just makes everything great for me," he told ABC News.
The father of four has been working longer hours these days, picking up extra shifts to help out during the pandemic. He was around so much that those who lived on his route began to notice.
"During the pandemic, we noticed he was working later hours, six days a week, while we were all safe at home, and we just wanted to do something to say thank you," Linda Muratore told WABC. "He always had a smile on his face. He'd go out of his way to be extra helpful, carrying extra packages. So, just being the person that he is and us knowing him for so long, we just wanted to do something to give back."
And that's what they did. Muratore and her neighbors planned a surprise for Watkins, sending him a text message asking him to come by and help someone.
As Watkins drove down the street, he said he saw all the cars lined up.
"I was thinking, 'Am I gonna be able to get my truck through,'" he said. "So, as I started approaching, that's when everybody started putting up the signs and cheering. I was like, 'Oh my goodness. Is this for me?' And I was just blown away by the whole thing."
Neighbors on Watkins' route cheered his name and held up signs thanking him for his service. Speaking to the crowd, he reminisced about watching their kids grow up and said he was "blessed" to know them.
"The feeling from everything was just like, I felt loved. I felt cared for. I just felt appreciated," he said. "I was humbled by the whole situation. Just to think that they did that for me. ... It's an awesome feeling."