Meals for 18 Wheels ready to deliver more holiday meals

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Friday, November 04, 2016

Meals for 18 Wheels, a group that serves hot meals to truck drivers in need, is preparing for its fourth holiday season.

Crystal Schoonmaker, who serves as an administrator on the group’s Facebook page, said the organization served 395 home-cooked meals to truck drivers on Thanksgiving last year and anticipates similar numbers this year.

Schoonmaker is well aware of the sacrifices drivers make as her husband (James), her father, aunt, two uncles and brother have all been truckers.

“The basis of this is that a lot of drivers stay out on the road and do the holidays with their family at a different time,” Schoonmaker said. “So we wanted to get those drivers a home-cooked meal to let them know that someone was thinking about them.

“All the drivers have to do is let us know where they’re at, and then we’ll work tirelessly through the day, the night and the next day to get them a home-cooked meal.”

Drivers in need of a meal can contact Meals for 18 Wheels on its Facebook page or by emailing MealsFor18Wheels@gmail.com. Once they have a driver’s whereabouts, the group will attempt to connect a driver with one of its 1,500 volunteers across the United States.

“We’re setting aside Thanksgiving and the Friday (Nov. 24-25) for holiday sharing,” Schoonmaker said. “For the rest of the weekend, we’re going to play that by ear. If something arises during the weekend, we’ll definitely be available to try and get a driver a home-cooked meal.”

Some of the volunteers for Thanksgiving and Christmas are drivers who have been helped by the group in past years but who are going to be home with their families this time around.

“They said they wanted to pay it forward,” Schoonmaker said.

While Thanksgiving and Christmas are the group’s busiest times of year, Meals for 18 Wheels is a year-round operation. The group typically provides meals to several drivers each week.

“The past year has been busy,” she said. “At the beginning of the year, we were really busy. We were getting drivers that needed help almost every day. Recently, it’s slowed down a bunch. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m leaning toward that it’s a good thing.

“We’re thankful that there may be less of a need, but some new drivers might not know we’re here. Hopefully, we can get the word out to everyone. We definitely want everyone to know that we’re still here, we’re still active, and we’re still doing this.”

Individuals who’d like to volunteer can apply here. The group is thin on volunteers in Nebraska, Kansas, Washington and Nevada.

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