I got a note from owner-operators Lisa and Lee Schmitt about a step-deck load’s worth of hay they were delivered to flood-stricken areas in the Midwest. The load was donated, as is its transportation, as part of relief efforts in part coordinated through a relatively new effort called Trucks With Room to Spare that Greenup, Kentucky-based trucker Shelli Conaway launched last year with a desire to assist areas hit by Hurricane Michael in Florida.
“There was such a demand for supplies,” Conaway says, and at the time “I was running down there. I’m a flatbed, but could haul a couple pallets of water” or other needed supplies on extra space if needed. “I know everything helps.”
Conaway started a Facebook group with an intent to “try to match up drivers” who had space to donate with those who had the supplies heading in. “A lot of people are going in with paying loads, or maybe going through the area” with extra space on the trailer. She knows how it feels to “do something nice for a community” experiencing a disaster, and in the end it all reflects well on truckers writ large.
She says she worked with a nonprofit group out of Houston called Cajun Navy Supply on matching drivers with a “stuff the truck” event held in Texas — where locals brought donated supplies and a small number of trucks/trailers were filled to convoy out to distribution points for Michael relief.
They’re repeating that effort this coming Monday, March 25, says Conaway, with distribution planned to areas around the flooding in the Midwest. Three trucks are already committed, she adds, but they need a couple more. Conaway says, too, that she and two other volunteers in Lisa Schmitt and Cheryl Pollard Scales are also coordinating with local relief organizations around flooded areas in the Midwest to support relief efforts centered largely at agricultural commodities/livestock support.
“The Salvation Army and the Red Cross do a lot, but [other] small nonprofit groups don’t have the money to pay for transporting supplies” that are donated, she says. Since her group has “applied for its 501(c)3” nonprofit designation, drivers donating time and space on their trailers do so in a tax-exempt fashion. “If we had more people step up, we could do more.”
Conaway says she tries to keep Trucks With Room to Spare’s Facebook group updated with loads she knows about with a need to be moved. She also said drivers interested in getting involved should feel free to contact her directly through Facebook message and/or call/text if they may have some space or time available. Find her contact information at this website.