OOIDA scholarship fundraiser week scores more than $6,100

| 4/30/2007

College ain’t cheap. So it’s no surprise that the OOIDA Foundation’s Scholarship Committee is always looking for ways to raise money to benefit Association members’ children, grandchildren and legal dependents who seek to further their education.

In mid-April, the OOIDA Board of Directors met in Grain Valley, MO, for the spring business meeting. And while the board was working hard to plot the Association’s course, the scholarship committee and its supporters worked just as hard behind the scenes to help raise money to assist members’ families with their college expenses.

“We far exceeded what we had hoped to make this year,” said Paula Chambers, scholarship committee member. Paula’s husband, Woody, is general vice president for OOIDA and serves on the board. The Chambers are from Eddyville, KY.

Paula said one of the week’s fundraising projects was as fun for employees as it was profitable for the committee.

Spread out over a dozen tables in the cafeteria at OOIDA headquarters, a craft fair featured handmade furniture, salsa and apple butter, along with jewelry and other crafts donated by board members and employees.

Margo Elrod, wife of Board Member Mark Elrod, spent many hours making wood furniture, including shelves and a shadow box-type coffee table that featured the back window of a Mack truck, which was an attention grabber at this year’s craft show. The Elrods are from Peru, IN.

“My husband was crushing a Mack truck and the back window didn’t break, so he said there was a reason it didn’t break and asked me to make it into a coffee table, but he only gave me three days to do it,” Margo said. “But, it’s all for a good cause.”

Scholarship Committee member Martha Taylor and her husband, John, donated dozens of jars of golden brown apple butter. The Taylors make the homemade sauce every year at their home in Cross Junction, VA. It’s a family tradition, along with trucking.

“This is one of the greatest things that we have accomplished,” she said about the scholarship fund. “We’ve helped a lot of truckers; now we are trying to help their children.”

OOIDA employees pitched in as well and made a handmade quilt that raised $600 for the scholarship fund. OOIDA members were also allowed to make bids on the quilt via the Internet this year.

The handmade quilt consisted of 12 quilt blocks in a trucking theme that included the OOIDA logo and the eagle. Employee Kathy Gaines pieced the top together. Sue Lynch, alternative board member, helped with the needlework, too.

Paula reported that this year’s craft fair netted $4,400. But the fundraisers weren’t only about homemade items.

Board Member Charlie Parfrey of Spokane Valley, WA, organized a golf tournament at Bent Oak Golf Course in Oak Grove, MO, which raised more than $1,100 for the scholarship fund. Teams were made up of Association executives, board members and OOIDA employees.

The committee is already coming up with more ways to raise money for the scholarship fund. The next craft fair is planned for the fall 2008 board meeting. Plans include hosting a chili lunch for the employees of OOIDA. Lesa Godwin, human resources director for OOIDA, and Martha Taylor will be in charge of planning this event.

Joan Rajkovacz, committee member, is in charge of editing a cookbook that will feature OOIDA board members’ recipes, including photos, that may be ready for review at the fall 2007 meeting. Her husband, Joe, is OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist and also serves on the board. They are from Oak Grove, MO.

Board Member Bill Rode, Eagle, ID, is the Scholarship Committee chairman, and he said he’s been amazed with how far the scholarship fund has come since its inception.

“It’s wonderful to check back with these kids and see how far they went with a little financial help,” he said. “For many, it’s the difference between whether or not they can go on to college.”

Bill said he “never fails to be amazed” with the amount of support the committee has received over the years. The fund has awarded more than $105,000 in scholarships since 1997.

The scholarship committee awards a total of five scholarships annually, which are based on grades, extra-curricular activities and an essay question, which on this year’s application, asked applicants ways to improve the public’s image of truck drivers. The first-place scholarship recipient qualifies for $8,000 over four years of college if they maintain a C average, while the other four scholarship recipients qualify for $4,000 spread over four years.

“Our committee started out with $500 and we were like, ‘OK, what do we do now?’ ” Rode said. “Now, we are able to help more and more kids, while promoting a positive image of truck drivers. Giving out scholarships is a good way to do this.”

In July, Land Line media will announce the winners of this year’s scholarships.

– By Staff Writers Clarissa Kell-Holland and Reed Black