ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There is no doubt the 40 truck drivers working at Feeding Tampa Bay are heroic.
They delivered more than 16 million pounds of food for families in need since the beginning of the pandemic. But one driver stands out a bit more from all the rest.
His name is Matthew Howe. He's become an unlikely celebrity at the mega mobile food pantries.
The tall, muscled, mohawked 42-year-old doesn't just drive trucks, unload cargo and help load food into the cars of the 10,000 families being served at mega pantries every week.
Matthew also acts as a lovable carnival barker, a larger-than-life emcee with nonstop patter, waving the cars into the load-in area.
"Loving your hat, miss!"
"Come on down here!"
"I'm blessed by the best too good to be stressed!"
Taking a quick breather from his work, Matthew says these aren't strangers he's serving.
"We're all family now. I will bump into these people again," says Howe. "And maybe they'll be up and I'll be down. And hopefully they'll remember me."
Matthew once owned his own trucking business. But he answered a higher calling when he took this job.
"I don't know why Jesus picked me, but he did," Howe says.
Matthew wants all 1.7 million mouths that Feeding Tampa Bay is helping to feel loved and respected, especially when they see his face.
"I'm more than a truck driver," he says. "When I see these people come up to me, the satisfaction I feel in helping, you can't buy that."
For more information on how you can help out Feeding Tampa Bay or receive food assistance from the nonprofit, click here.