A 23-year-old Ohio mailman is delivering more than just letters to many of the people on his route in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kyle West, who has worked for the Postal Service for 2 1/2 years, has become known in his community as "Mailman Kyle."
West said he has 917 deliveries on his daily route, and that he knows each person by name.
"They're my people. That's my route," West says. "I do this six days a week. I know everyone, and you know their kids. Everywhere you look, there's someone waving at you."
West said many of the deliveries on his route are to homes where people have an annual income lower than $30,000 a year. Many homes also are occupied by elderly or disabled people.
The idea to help his community came to West one day while shopping at Walmart. He went to buy toilet paper and found one his customers, a 94-year-old man, standing in front of the two remaining packs on the shelf. He walked away without taking any, telling West he couldn't afford it.
West bought his customer the toilet paper and delivered it the next day.
"I told him to stay his butt in the house, and if he needed anything I could go get it for him," West said. "Then I came up with the idea to make notes."
West printed notes for each of the 917 deliveries on his route that read: "If you are at risk and need help getting essential items let me know. I will do what I can to help." He signed the notes "Mailman Kyle" and included his phone number.
West said he received responses to nearly every single note. Many of them were just said thank you, while about 50 high-risk individuals asked for help.
Other neighbors offered to donate items to those in need. Individuals looking to assist postal workers with donations, including personal protective equipment, can drop them off at a local post office.
When news outlets caught wind of the story, West, at first, turned many of them down.
"I don't like cameras, and that's not why I did it," West said. "I'm doing this because I feel like I'm part of their neighborhood. I spend more hours at the post office than I do at my own house."
West said he hopes the attention his story is getting will inspire other workers on the front lines to go the extra mile for their communities.
"We're already out there exposed, so if we can keep other people from being exposed, we can do that," West said. "Hopefully other mail carriers will step up and help their customers if they need to."