Joe Smith, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Army, was one of the more than 36,000 veterans who received a Truckers for Troops care package from OOIDA.
Now stationed in Fort Hood, Smith has been deployed in combat zones four times, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said the packages provided a huge morale boost for him and others serving with him.
“The time of year that it came was a surprise. Some of our supplies were running low. It helped raise morale at the time,” he told Land Line Now host Mark Reddig.
“The thing that helped the most was receiving some items we don’t get on a regular basis,” he said.
OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops campaign rolls into its third day Wednesday. Phones have been steadily ringing at OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo., during the opening days of the campaign.
The event brings truckers together to support those who protect and defend our nation. This year’s campaign started Monday, Nov. 13. Shell Rotella kicked off the fundraising this year with a $2,000 contribution.
Listen to Land Line Now’s full interview with Spc. Smith below.
About 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Another 7,000 are deployed in Iraq. It would take nearly 1,700 care packages to put something from home in the hands of each of them.
Through the generous support of OOIDA’s members, last year’s campaign was also able to send items to 20 facilities stateside that provide support and services to wounded veterans or those returning home.
Truckers for Troops offers new and existing OOIDA members a chance to sign up or renew their membership for the discounted price of $35 per year. Ten percent of the fee goes toward care packages for U.S. troops stationed in combat areas overseas. OOIDA matches the 10 percent dollar for dollar.
Land Line Now will continue airing the Truckers for Troops telethon through Friday, Nov. 17.
Through the generosity of its members and with a matching contribution by the Association, more than $500,000 has been raised.
Veterans are a huge part of the trucking industry overall, and more than one-third of all OOIDA members have served in the military.
To be a part of it, just call OOIDA’s main number, 800-444-5791. During business hours, let operators know you’re calling about Truckers for Troops and they will transfer you to membership. Phones will be answered live, and the switchboards will stay open later than usual, so you can call until 7:30 p.m. CST.
You can join or renew your membership with OOIDA – for as many years as you like – at $35 per year.
You can also visit Jon Osburn at The Spirit of the American Trucker touring trailer during the campaign and sign up or renew your membership. Jon will also be giving away Truckers for Troops T-shirts to those who sign up at The Spirit, while supplies last.
Mail-in contributions also will be accepted. However, payments must specify “Troops” in order for them to be counted toward the total and designate if the amount is for dues or dues and donations. Donation only checks need to be made out to the OOIDA Foundation so they can be tax deductible.
To date, the Association has sent more than 3,000 large care packages and provided items to nearly 36,000 military personnel stationed in areas designated as combat zones. Those zones include Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula areas, which includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, part of the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also still includes the Kosovo area of Yugoslavia.
In 2015, the Association expanded the program’s mission to include supplying needed items to various medical care facilities for wounded or needy veterans back in the states.
Challenges are part of the fun too. And things got started early this year.
Osburn’s faithful co-pilot, Sassi, is challenging all the other trucking pets to donate $220 – the amount of money for one care package (or whatever amount they can) to the campaign. People may post or send their pet photos to Facebook.com/TruckersForTroops.
It costs about $220 for one box. All the purchasing, organizing and packing of the boxes is handled by OOIDA staff volunteers, ensuring that 100 percent of the money raised is used to purchase items and cover shipping.
OOIDA is also asking for the names and addresses of troops serving in active combat zones to add to the Association’s list of recipients. Call the name and address in to Nikki Johnson at OOIDA at 816-229-5791. You also may email her at email@example.com.
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