Not home for the holidays? How about a home-cooked meal?

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 11/10/2014

Truckers who are going to be out on the road for Thanksgiving or Christmas won’t have to worry about missing out on a hot, holiday meal. Not if the folks at “Meals for 18 Wheels” have anything to say about it.

The group, which started on Facebook last Thanksgiving, said they’re already gearing up for what they hope will be a busy holiday season of matching drivers with volunteers who want to share their appreciation for the men and women who move America by providing a little taste of home-cooking.

Crystal Schoonmaker, one of the administrators of the Facebook group, said last year volunteers delivered about 300 meals during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Schoonmaker knows what it’s like to be on the road during the holidays, having traveled with her husband, OOIDA Member James.

“Last year for Thanksgiving, we only delivered 31, but that’s because the (Facebook) page started the day before (the holiday),” she said in an interview with Land Line. “We’re hoping to at least try to double that.”

Schoonmaker said the group will put up a post on Facebook every day during the holiday season for drivers on the road to leave a comment or message about where they will be when they want the meal delivered.

“We just ask for some advanced notice about where they’re going to be and how long they’re going to be there so we can find some volunteers,” she said. “All we would need is a rough estimate so we have enough notice to work throughout the day to be able to guarantee someone will be able to help the driver.”

Those who wish to volunteer to make and deliver meals are asked to send a message to the page, and to fill out a brief, confidential survey to provide a name, contact number, location, and travel radius they are willing to go.

“We have close to 500 volunteers (so far),” she said.

In addition to Schoonmaker, the group has four other administrators who will coordinate the meal delivery effort, all but one of whom is either a trucker or the spouse of a truck driver.

“We know what it’s like to be out in the truck, or our husbands are out in the truck and they can’t make it home,” she said. “The one thing that would make them feel better about having to work the holidays would be a hot meal, a holiday meal for somebody. We don’t ask anything for it, just that you pay it forward.”

When it comes to safety, Schoonmaker said the group offers a few tips for both drivers and volunteers, such as meeting in a public place – for instance, inside a truck stop or store.
“We ask that everybody meet inside or around other people,” she said. “We don’t encourage knocking on truck doors. Meet inside of a safe place, not in the middle of a parking lot at 10 o’clock at night.”

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