Crystal Schoonmaker is well aware of the obstacles that can confront truckers.
Her husband, James, is an OOIDA member and has served as a truck driver for 15 years. In addition to traveling with James for about five years, she was raised around the occupation as her father, aunt, two uncles and brother have all been truckers.
That knowledge prompted Schoonmaker to get involved with the launch of Meals for 18 Wheels, which has served hundreds of free home-cooked meals to truckers since its creation in November 2013.
“This is very rewarding to me,” said Schoonmaker, who serves as an administrator on the Facebook page. “I don’t get paid, but this is my job. I do it because I know what it’s like to be stuck and not know if you’re going to be able to eat. I know what it’s like for drivers starting off. I come from a family of truckers. This is what I can do to give back.”
Schoonmaker and the group’s many volunteers are preparing to deliver meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas for the third consecutive year.
Meals for 18 Wheels plans to have volunteers available to deliver home-cooked food on Thursday, Nov. 26; Friday, Nov. 27; Thursday, Dec. 24; Friday, Dec. 25; and Saturday, Dec. 26.
Schoonmaker said the group anticipates providing at least 200 meals during those dates.
The group has about 1,200 volunteers across the United States, but is always looking for more.
“Iowa and Nebraska are two states where we don’t have a lot of volunteers,” Schoonmaker said. “We also don’t have a lot of volunteers in the Northeast. We can use all the volunteers we can get.”
Those willing to volunteer are asked to send a personal message to the Facebook page and to fill out a confidential survey with their name, contact number, location and travel radius they are willing to go.
Truckers in need of a meal over the holidays or anytime throughout the year also can send a personal message to the group’s Facebook page or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If a driver is broken down and doesn’t have access to food or anything of that sort, contact the page,” Schoonmaker said. “We will find a volunteer in that location.
“We really encourage the drivers to contact us if they need help. We understand they have pride. Truckers are full of pride and have every right to be. But be willing to put that aside. Everyone needs to eat.”
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