When you think of care packages, the first image that flashes across your mind is a shoebox stuffed with goodies and a few essentials. That would be right in a lot of cases. But not for Truckers for Troops care packages. Think of them as care packages on steroids.
The care packages sent to combat areas overseas courtesy of Truckers for Troops are about 2 feet by 18 inches by 14 inches by 14 inches. Over the years they have weighed between 40 and 70 pounds depending on the contents.
And not a single inch of space goes to waste.
While filled with essential items like socks, baby powder, lip balm and sunscreen, they also contain fun items. Things like Frisbees, water guns and Silly String have been included over the years as well. Perhaps one of the most ingenious items was when real peanuts were used in lieu of packing peanuts, with some baggies included for sharing the real peanuts.
OOIDA’s Nikki Johnson coordinates the purchasing for the items in the care packages and works closely with the troops in trying to respond to special requests. Such requests have been to include some items for the bomb dogs that work with the troops. Johnson even fills boxes specifically for the female troops.
“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said when you’re in a war zone and get a package, when you open it, it’s like getting “a little bit of home.”
“And, when there’s something like a Frisbee or a ball in there, a service man or woman can have a few minutes of fun in a place that’s anything but fun,” he said.
Along with the contents, each box contains about a dozen handmade cards and handwritten letters from elementary school students.
The contents of the care packages run about $190, and shipping costs about $50 per box. All of the packing is done by volunteer employees of OOIDA, so every penny raised during Truckers for Troops goes toward the actual care packages.
Over the past few years, the Truckers for Troops effort has raised more than $360,000, enabling the Association to send more than 2,500 care packages, serving nearly 30,000 military personnel. Last year alone OOIDA sent 285 care packages serving more than 3,900 military personnel. The goal is to exceed those numbers.
All calls to join or renew membership through the start of business Monday, Dec. 16, will count toward the telethon totals.
Truckers can take part by calling the Association’s main number, 800-444-5791. During business hours and up until 7:30 p.m. Central time, operators will take the call; after hours, call the same number and press 1.
If operators are available, you will be transferred to membership. If the office is closed, it will put you in a voice mail box where you can leave your name and a phone number for membership to call you back. You can also sign up online here.