OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops: Lending St. Nick a hand

| 12/12/2008

Trucker and Lifetime Member Bob Esler, Taylor, MI, said it best. “They are there. We are here. A package from home means everything.”

Last year, Esler’s grandson was serving overseas and was a recipient of a care package provided by OOIDA’s first Truckers for Troops Telethon. OOIDA is now conducting its second membership radio “telethon” Dec. 8-12. As the week wraps up, there’s no doubt that a sleigh full of packages will be going overseas to our troops. The phone lines at headquarters have been on fire.

Here’s how it works: 10 percent of the membership fees collected during the telethon will be matched by the Association to pay for care packages to be sent to U.S. troops stationed overseas.

The telethon is being broadcast via Land Line Now, the Association’s radio show on XM Satellite Radio Channel 171 during its regularly scheduled daily broadcast from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. The evening show re-airs every morning at 6 a.m. Eastern.

During the event, Association dues (new and renewals) will be discounted from their normal $45 to only $25 for an annual membership.

Last year, the Association’s goal was to raise $5,000 for care packages for troops overseas. The grand total, however, came to more than $43,000, including a dollar-for-dollar-match by OOIDA.

“Truckers are clearly having a blast,” said OOIDA Membership Supervisor Sylvia Dodson. “It’s really fun and gratifying. Nobody, I mean nobody, is more patriotic and caring than truckers. For one thing, they are out on the road running alone so much of the time, away from home at Thanksgiving, away from home on Christmas. They can absolutely relate to what it feels like to get some TLC from home.”

Dodson said this year there’s a new unexpected twist to the telethon. Truckers who are veterans are challenging each other to participate – with points going to their branch of service.

“So many truckers are veterans. And they are throwing out challenges to other truckers who are veterans or current members of various branches of our armed forces. The competition really started warming up about midweek and, wow, it’s now pretty intense. We are actually keeping a scoreboard in the Membership Department.”

Dodson reports that a trucker who was a Marine started it, challenging the Navy vets to “bring it on.”

“If the trucker is already an OOIDA member, they can still participate by making a contribution. Right now – as of Friday morning – the Army is winning; the Marines are second,” she said.

Last year, OOIDA members ended up sending 212 giant packages to troops overseas. Each package supplied 12 soldiers – more than 2,500 troops total – with special gift items from truckers on the home front. Some of the gifts were comfort items, such as double-thick tube socks or self-heating Hills Bros. coffee or hand-warmers. Some were fun items, like water pistols and footballs.

She said that this week one trucker pledged to pay for one entire box by himself.

OOIDA’s switchboard operators are on hand at HQ in Grain Valley, MO, as usual beginning daily at 7:30 a.m. Central Time and will remain at their posts until 7:30 p.m. during the telethon.

When call volumes are heavy, Dodson said some callers may be directed to a special voice-mail extension and asked to leave a detailed message. All calls will be returned as soon as possible.

After the telethon, OOIDA will arrange and coordinate shipping the care packages.

But that’s not all. Dodson said that after the telethon is over the Association will continue to discount dues for new and renewing members through Jan. 31, 2009.

– By Land Line staff