Friday, December 20, 2013

Joy ridin’ with Trucker Charity and the Christmas Group

Everyone admits the North Pole has the ultimate JIT logistics operation – one rig, one driver, one night to deliver all those loads. Second behind the North Pole, with no logistics department at all, is a not-for-profit outfit of professional truck drivers called Trucker Charity’s Christmas Group. 

They’ve been fundraising all year so they can give a helping hand to selected trucking families who need a little assistance getting through Christmas. This year – the group’s sixth annual event – represented a special milestone. The group reached $60,000 total donations distributed to 100 trucking families in need.

They began their “deliveries” promptly at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday evening and completed the last call at 2:24 a.m., a marathon that dispensed $13,200. That’s $600 Comchecks to each of 22 chosen trucking families. Each check was delivered with a personal, chatty phone call from Santa and 40 plus “elves” on a massive conference cellular joy ride that lasted 8 hours.

Canadian trucker Greg Manchester played the role of Santa – he lives closest to the North Pole. Greg was on the job, sitting in his truck waiting to be unloaded. At one time, he had to leave to get hooked up. He began each call like this:

Greg (Santa):  Ok, guys, quiet down, I’m dialing. We’re live. 

And then.

Greg (Santa): Ho ho ho this is Santa, calling from the North Pole. I am here with all the elves on the workshop floor. You are one of the 22 families we’ve chosen to support this year with $600 to get them through Christmas. So Merry Christmas! (1, 2, 3, everyone on the conference call shouts “Merry Christmas!”)

What we heard after that ranged from sobs, gasps of relief, shock, bewilderment and outright “are you serious?” In many cases, the wife was home with kids, husband on the road, behind with bills and no presents. Not even a tree yet. When they got over the shock of a $600 check that would soon be in their hands with no strings attached, most said they would catch up bills and buy presents for the kids and grandkids.

Many of the families were dealing with trucks broken down, surgeries, illnesses, heart attacks and family members in the hospital. A call was made to a young mother with six kids. Her trucking husband was recovering from an illness and already back on the road. They lost their home and are staying with a relative. Several truckers said next year they’d be on their feet and part of the volunteer group. One wife, through her tears: “You couldn’t have called at a better time. We’ve been getting disconnect notices all week.”

The workshop floor was packed last night. Trucker Charity President Lance Wood said it was the biggest crowd ever. Most members of the group were there, including Kerry Mullins, Isaac Bland, Eldon McFarling, Idella Hansen, Mark and Mary Abraham, Virginia Chomo, Greg Wilson, Tony Hamilton, David Gilland, Rodney and Cindy Bartlett, David Stewart, Sean Davis and many more. Then there were guests like myself and Joanne Ritchie of OBAC who were along for the ride, plus one trucker from the U.K. (Allan Dodds) and one on the line from Australia. And this list isn’t even half of them.


On Friday, Trucker Charity secretary Kerry Mullins said the project could not have been accomplished without supporters like OPS, Dillard's Trucking, America’s Trucking Network, Auto Sock, Snap On, Let’s Truck, Pittsburg Power, FASS System, Justin Boots, Red Eye Radio, IdleAire, Air Tabs, True Balance, Centramatic, Terry Wooley, Maxwell Technologies, Mike Beckett, OOIDA, OBAC, APRAC, Sennhieser, Uniden and many more.