By Sandy Long
Many might not know that truckers do much more than just drive that truck. Truckers are involved in charitable work throughout the world. Here in the USA, truckers work to raise money for Special Olympics, research for a cure for breast cancer, Make a Wish foundation and Trucker Buddy Program to name a few. Two years ago, a new charitable organization was started called Trucking Santas.
Trucking Santas was founded by Heather Pontruff and her fiancé Louis (Lou) Obadal through their website Trucker’s Voice. Heather and Lou heard of families who were not going to be able to afford any sort of Christmas for their children and made the decision to do something to help. Since then, Heather and Lou have identified 38 to date families that live in poverty, have terminally ill children, or who are out of work due to the economy. In addition to the 38 families, Trucking Santas will be assisting 65 people who are in a cerebral palsy home. Heather says, “Many of the said families have had tragedy, including kids that are terminally ill. In one family, the father was paralyzed in an accident this year; the stories make one sad to hear. Some of these families have never had presents under the tree. In addition to being able to assist others, we are assisting truckers too by showing that truckers do care about those outside of the industry.”
Each family receives 4 outfits, 1 pair of shoes, and new bedding for every person in the family. The children get gifts. If the families have a need for pots and pans, dishes, towels, etc., they also get them. One lady at the cerebral palsy home teaches Bible study to the others, her Bible was worn out, plans are in place to get her a new one along with an audio Bible set and other materials to assist her in her ministry. Others at the facilty have asked for special bedding, they will get it. Heather reports that these folks are ‘amazing!’
Trucking Santas has no corporate sponsors but do have some companies and many truckers involved in making Christmas special for their adopted families and folks. They have yet to gain their non-for profit certification, hopefully that will occur within the next year according to Heather. Some of the truckers involved had this to say why they are involved in Trucking Santas and how they can afford to do so in this economy.
Vern Lampman: “Melissa and I wanted to reach out and help a family in need. We were blessed several years ago when families in our town helped us at Christmas when my income was cut in half after leaving the Air Force. God has blessed us financially and we want to share blessings!”
Tullina Jones Wambold: “I feel like even though I may not be in the best position myself, I know there are MANY others who have it a lot worse. I feel blessed with what I do have so I want to do my best to help someone else.”
Becca Burke Allison: “ I believe we need to help each other in this world; love your neighbor for real. Any of us can fall on hard times. All of us are pretty much clueless as to how we got here and what we should be doing. Helping others makes the most sense. Besides, it’s fun!”
Rebecca ‘Queenbee’ Lee: “What comes around goes around. Growing up my dad was the chief of police in a small town in Minnesota, every Thanksgiving and Christmas my dad bought a case of turkeys and all the fixings for a holiday meals for 6 families in our area. By me being part of this, I feel I am following those family footsteps. Granted times are tough, but a little bit of love goes a long ways on a holiday. It brings great joy to me.”
Thomas Heatherman: “Why did I do it, it’s hard to explain. I have seen enough death and destruction so it’s nice to do something good. Besides Christmas is a time of year that kids look forward to. There’s nothing like the smiles on a child’s face when they see the presents; I may not see the faces but I know I helped make their Christmas. From the time I said yes to Trucking Santas I started setting money aside for my adopted family.”
The adopted families are grateful for Trucking Santas as stated by Amanda Sargis, “I am the wife of a independent trucker and with the cost of fuel and operation and maintaining the truck we wouldn’t of had the Christmas that we had, and seeing the generosity that folks had helped raise my spirits and prove yet once again that humanity does still exist in the world. I am still struggling today living hand to mouth but continue to carry last year’s Christmas in my heart knowing that my kids will always see that as their best Christmas ever and I must thank all involved.”
One does not have to be big and jolly or wear a red suit to be a Trucking Santa, one just has to have a big heart and any amount of money to assist. Heather says, “While direct money donations are not accepted, we always need card senders and adopters. If you help adopt a family, you will be given a wish list from an online store. The families name and address are automatically imprinted into there. The Trucking Santa shops for the gifts and directly ships it or takes it to the family themselves. Some Trucking Santas cannot afford to do a whole list, they can do part of it or just one item. Cards are appreciated almost as much as the gifts because it shows someone cares. The family in turn sends me pictures of them opening their gifts, and I post them for all Trucking Santas to see.”
If you are interested in becoming involved in Trucking Santas and bring a merry ho ho ho to a needy family or person, Heather says, “Anyone interested In helping out can contact me anytime via facebook (www.facebook.com/theoneandonlytv), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or twitter (@trkingsantas).“