Though most of us have a lot of things on our minds over the holidays, what truckers are eating for dinner probably isn't one of them. An organization called Meals for 18 Wheels is hoping to change that, and make Christmas a little merrier for truck drivers who will be away from home for the holidays.
The group's concept – to encourage people to "adopt a trucker" and deliver him or her a meal on the road – is the brainchild of Kari Fisher, who is also the CEO of Missing Truck Driver Alert Network, an organization that helps locate truck drivers who have fallen off the radar. According to Fisher, on the day before Thanksgiving this year, she received a post on the Missing Driver Alert Network Facebook page from a driver who was lamenting the fact that he wasn't going to get a home-cooked meal for the holiday. Fisher realized that other drivers were probably feeling the same way, so she posted a call out to drivers who would be interested in receiving meals — and volunteers who could deliver them. In all, 31 meals were delivered on Thanksgiving Day. The immediate response encouraged Fisher to send her 3,000 Facebook followers invitations to either request meals — or volunteer to deliver them for Christmas. So far, 250 people in 42 states have signed up to bring dinner to truckers on the road this season.
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According to the American Trucking Association, there are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States. “People take drivers for granted,” Fisher tells Yahoo Shine. “They don’t realize that everything they own, the food they eat, and the fuel they use is delivered by a truck driver.” Fisher and her partner in Meals for 18 Wheels, Crystal Schoonmaker, know from experience how hard it can be to find good food on the road. Both woman are married to truck drivers and have spent time traveling with their husbands for work. “It’s hard to eat healthy and it can be very expensive,” Schoonmaker tells Yahoo Shine.
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Trucker Jeff Bridwell, from Springfield, Missouri, was on the receiving end of the group's generosity on Thanksgiving. Bridwell was hoping to go to a restaurant along his route for his holiday dinner, but he realized the morning of Thanksgiving he wouldn’t make it in time. His wife posted a request for a meal at 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and by 6 p.m. that evening, Bridwell was meeting a volunteer at a truck stop in Olney, Illinois, to pick up a turkey dinner for himself and the driver trainee who was riding with him. According to Bridwell, the pair was given so much food that they were able to share it with other truckers, too. “It felt really good to know that people are willing to help us celebrate the holidays on the road,” Bridwell tells Yahoo Shine. This Christmas, Bridwell will be happily spending the holiday at home, but he plans to pay the favor forward by delivering meals to drivers in his area.
For Christmas, Meals for 18 Wheels is orchestrating meal deliveries for Dec. 23 through 27. “The drivers often don’t know where they will be until they get dispatched,” says Fisher, noting that there are a lot of last-minute requests. The five-day delivery window will help ensure that every driver who wants a meal can have one, she says.
Another volunteer close to the cause is Amber Acosta of Victorville, California. Acosta’s fiancé has been a truck driver for more than a decade, and this year he was on the road for Thanksgiving. When Acosta saw the posting on Facebook asking people to deliver dinner to drivers on the road, she didn’t hesitate to volunteer. This Christmas, Acosta’s fiancé will be home and will join her in delivering meals to truckers. Says Acosta, “I want the drivers to know we appreciate their efforts.”
Want to deliver a meal? Visit the Meals for 18 Wheels Facebook page to volunteer.
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