Although donations are down this year, OOIDA member Craig Hansen, known as the “Truckin’ Santa,” said he’s not discouraged.
Hansen and his wife, Debbie, of High Ridge, MO, are heading out on Monday, Dec. 17, to Biloxi, MS, to help more than 200 families who probably wouldn’t have Christmas this year without Craig and Debbie’s help.
“I just can’t say no when I get a call like this asking for my help,” Hansen told Land Line. “I know donations are down and maybe this is God’s way of telling me we’ve been there enough, but even if I only had a $10 donation and I knew a kid needed a toy, I would be down there to make sure they got it.”
So far, Hansen, who hauls oversize loads in the St. Louis area, said he has received $1,750 in donations this year, down from the amount he has received the two previous years. He plans to spend at least $1,000 of his own money to make sure the kids have what they need.
“Times are hard – I know that,” he said. “In the past, people would come up and give me $50 and tell me, ‘You know what to do with it,’ but they just don’t have it to give this year.”
He donates his own truck and pays for own lodging and fuel out of his own pocket to ensure that all of the donations go directly to the families that need it.
Instead of toys this year, Hansen said the parents of the families have requested clothes and shoes for their kids this year, so he and his wife, Debbie, are planning to take each family to the store to shop.
“This way the kids can get what they want and what they need,” he said.
Hansen, who has been trucking for more than 30 years, is no stranger to the Gulf Coast – he has been taking relief supplies down to Hurricane Katrina victims since 2005. This will be the third year Hansen has taken down Christmas presents to families who have been financially impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
He and fellow trucker, Ron Johnson, of St. Louis, MO, have made many trips to the Gulf Coast region – delivering relief supplies when they realized that many families there wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas presents for their families. Hansen said Johnson won’t be able to make this trip because of health concerns.
Hansen gets emotional just sharing some of the stories and the human suffering he has seen since the hurricane hit in that area of the country.
“It’s the people you meet and the people that still need your help that that keep me coming back,” he said. “I remember two sisters who just asked me for a suitcase to put their belongings in, which weren’t many, when I was down there delivering supplies after Katrina hit. These two sisters had stayed alone in the house for two days where they had watched their mother die when a tree fell on her – and all they wanted was a suitcase.”
Hansen made sure the sisters left with full suitcases packed with donated clothing and he still thinks about them, although he hasn’t seen them since that day.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
Editor’s note: Donations to Craig Hansen’s “Truckin’ Santas” project can be made over the phone by calling the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which handles all the donations for the Truckin’ Santas at 1-888-930-4438, including credit card payments, or donations can be mailed to:
1333 South Kirkwood Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122