Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday roses

Senior Correspondent Terry Scruton and LL’s Managing Editor Jami Jones were in the “Land Line Now” studio last week recording a segment that handed out some special Christmas “roses” to some deserving people. Being on the road can be lonely during the holidays, and it’s good to know there are folks out there doing stuff like this to make it just a little less lonely.

Here are some of their holiday shout-outs.

Terry kicked off the segment with some holiday roses to a group of volunteers led by Ryan Diekmann – a driver for US Foods – who went to the Love’s truck stop the week before Christmas and handed out goodie bags to the truck drivers.

According to Terry, it happened at the Love’s in Cedar City, Utah. About 150 truckers got bags containing a blanket, homemade cookies and other treats. The group is an all-volunteer group called Operation Christmas on the Road, and their trip to the truck stop has become kind of a Christmas tradition.

Each year they dedicate their efforts to one of their own who passed away during the year. This year they dedicated everything to Jeremy Gunter, Diekmann’s former supervisor, who died rescuing his son in a drowning accident last June.

Jami handed out more roses to a group called “A Truckers Christmas Ministry” out of Greenwood, La.

They went out on Christmas Day to the TA truck stop there in Greenwood and handed out gift bags to truckers that included things like a Bible, cookies, CDs and toiletries.

The ministry was started by husband and wife Pete and Tammy Smith who started visiting the truck stop about four years ago.

Terry gave a rose out to the Meals for 18 Wheels group, which was started just this year by OOIDA member Kari Fischer and fellow trucker Crystal Schoonmaker. They started it back around Thanksgiving to try and bring some meals to truckers who are away from home during the holidays.

The group has snowballed since then, with nearly 450 members on Facebook. They have even inspired people outside of trucking to get involved, like a woman named Michelle Hepburn of Mokena, Ill. Now to be fair, Michelle’s son is a truck driver, but her sister-in-law got the idea to deliver goodies to drivers from the Meals for 18 Wheels Group.

Terry says they baked up a whole bunch of stuff, including peanut butter kisses, pecan nut cups and pumpkin spice cookies, which they handed out to truckers on Christmas Day.

As long as we’re talking about people doing nice things on Christmas, Jami gave a rose to police in the town of Melbourne, Fla. They spent their Christmas Day like any other day on duty – and one of those duties is, of course, pulling people over for speeding. But, instead of giving folks a speeding ticket and ruining their Christmas, they gave them a warning – and a scratch off lottery ticket.

The Associated Press quoted one of the cops as saying they bought the tickets with their own money because they wanted to spread a little holiday cheer while still ensuring public safety.

“We don’t know if any of the lottery tickets were winners,” said Jami, “but these officers are definitely winners in our book.”

Terry gave roses to Kennesaw Transportation Co. out of Cartersville, Ga. They started a policy 15 years ago to reward employees who had been at the company for five years or longer with a $10,000 bonus every five years.

This year the bonuses will go to 36 employees for a total of more than $360,000 dollars in bonuses handed out. Some employees there are on their third round of bonuses.

We know there are lots of other people and groups out there, too, but Terry and Jami and the whole OOIDA media crew just wanted to highlight a few and say thank you on behalf of truckers everywhere for making those long holiday hours on the road go by just a little bit faster.