It’s Truckers for Troops packing day at OOIDA. Imagine 40 feet of tables end to end, several dozen volunteers on each side, flat cardboard boxes at one end, address labels and a strapping machine at the other.
At the starting point, you’ll find country-western singer Leland Martin, who’s been assigned to assemble and tape the flat cardboard boxes. Overseeing the operation is OOIDA’s Nikki Johnson, who coordinates packing day. She figures 375 boxes with supplies for 12 people in each – and that’s 4,500 troops who will receive these care packages.
“We spent about $35,000 on this mailing,” Nikki said. “I know I ordered $8,000 worth of socks.”
An earlier mailing provided a similar number of troops with something from home.
Leland Martin’s wife, Pam, and OOIDA staff members Sherry Murry and Connie Becraft are packing talcum powder, Silly String, sunscreen, bubble gum and more.
“We have Land Line magazines, cortisone cream, peanuts, letters from kids – which is really a big thing with the troops,” says Connie. “And lots and lots of love in everything.”
We have some new volunteers this packing day. OOIDA Board Member Bill Rode from Eagle, ID, is here. He’s assigned to cut up and flatten the boxes that the supplies came in to get them out of the way.
Bill, a veteran of the Korean War, says, “If OOIDA had been around 61 years ago, it would have been a wonderful thing.”
And there’s new member Paula Dmyterko of Lenexa, KS. She’s a Walmart driver who wanted to be part of packing day. Her job was to pack Silly String.
“This is not just for playing around with, but to detect trip wires,” said Paula, who heard about the packing day project and wanted to be there.
“It’s just awesome.”
Yes, packing day is awesome. After all the donations from truckers are tallied up (more than $71,000 this year) and all the items are rounded up and all the volunteers show up, it’s finally time to pack it up. Put 60 pounds worth of socks and Frisbees and trail mix and lip balm in boxes and mail them to the troops overseas.
One of them is addressed to Specialist Wayne Weers, 814th Multiple Role Bridge Company, Fort Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
That’s one destination out of 375. LL
– Reed Black, Land Line Now staff reporter