GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is planning to launch its 14th annual Truckers for Troops care package campaign Nov. 9-16, Veterans Day week.
The fundraising effort, an OOIDA tradition since 2007, is dedicated to sending care packages to service personnel stationed in combat zones. Truckers for Troops also helps a variety of veterans’ facilities in the U.S., including those assisting or housing wounded, disabled or homeless service members.
Beginning this year, the program will also benefit the Veterans Community Project (VCP), which provides housing for homeless veterans through a community of “tiny houses.” VCP also provides comprehensive services such as navigating the Veterans Administration and its benefits, identification services, mental and physical health referrals, and financial counseling. In addition, veterans can receive hygiene kits and gain access to a food pantry. All services are free of charge.
During Truckers for Troops week, a broadcast is planned for each day on OOIDA’s Land Line Now satellite radio show on Sirius XM 146.
Drivers can join OOIDA or renew their memberships for $35 during the week. Ten percent of that fee will go toward care packages for military personnel — and OOIDA will match that 10% dollar for dollar. Individual tax-deductible contributions to the Truckers for Troops fund are also welcome and can be paid to the OOIDA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
During the past 13 years, the Truckers for Troops effort has raised more than $667,500, allowing OOIDA to send care packages to more than 39,000 military personnel.
To contribute to Truckers for Troops, join OOIDA or renew membership, call OOIDA at 800-444-5791. Phones will be answered by operators, and the switchboards will stay open until 7:30 p.m. CST. In addition, from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 10-11, OOIDA’s executive vice president, Lewie Pugh, will be available to take calls on the OOIDA switchboard.
Participation in OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops campaign isn’t limited to the trucking industry. The “Pet Challenge” allows anyone to sponsor the entire cost of a care package ($225) in the name of their favorite pet. Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s Spirit of the American Trucker touring truck, has traditionally submitted a pledge on behalf of Sassi, his canine co-pilot. Last year, Pugh met the challenge and sponsored two packages on behalf of his dog, Bandit.
OOIDA is currently seeking contact information for package recipients, and is accepting personal cards or letters to include inside the packages.
“We know that package recipients enjoy seeing handmade cards or letters from a variety of groups and individuals,” said Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s director of public relations. “A personal note or card adds that special warmth to what we send.”
Those who would like to direct a care package to a family member or friend who is serving in a combat zone with the U.S. military can email the recipient’s name and complete address to [email protected] (be sure to include the person’s projected stateside return date). In addition, truckers are encouraged to notify OOIDA of veteran facilities that have unmet needs.
Mail cards and letters to Truckers for Troops, P.O. Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO 64029. Please do not include last names or other personal information in the cards and letters (towns and school names may be included). Greeting cards do not have to follow a particular theme. Packages will be shipped to active-duty personnel in January or February 2021; veterans’ packages are shipped throughout the year.