The Stoop Family has it roots in part in the Youtube channel and live streams of Peekskill, N.Y., resident and trucker Fredrick Claxton, better known as “Choice M.A.S.” (That’d be “mind and spirit,” Claxton says.) In trucking since 2016 and an investor in two trucks, including a 2019 Freightliner Cascadia he drives, under the authority of a small fleet pulling power only with Prime, the flatbedder acted on suggestions from the community he’d managed to aggregate via his Youtube stream.
“Subscribers in my live feeds,” he says, “asked me to create a Zello Channel. I was going to call it The Hangout,” but seeing that name was taken, “I thought about where I used to hang out when I was young” in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Down the line, so to speak, it just worked out perfectly” as a name.
The Stoop Family within Zello, a smartphone app that allows for walkie-talkie push-to-talk functionality, is today a lively group for business and personal discussion and connection, Claxton says.
He’s seconded on that score by Sanford, N.C.-based Prime leased operator Deon Wilds, who reached out this past weekend about a homeless support initiative The Stoop took up this year in Louisville on the occasion of the the Mid-America Trucking Show. There, Claxton says, after raising close to $5,000 ahead of time, 10 truckers among those in the Stoop gathered in an Airbnb rental house and cooked, plated and distributed around 375 meals to homeless Louisville residents, likewise an additional 50 to 75 side salads with two cookies included after the crew ran out of meat. They gave out a near equivalent number of care packages with some bare essentials (soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and the like) to those without.
While a personally fulfilling experience for a man motivated to give by his own past and turns taken, mistakes made, the operation was perhaps a bigger undertaking than they expected, cooking all day Saturday and into the wee hours Sunday, followed by prep and distribution the next day. “It was insane, but it was beautiful,” he says. “We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.”
The roots of the effort were seeded last year at MATS, when Claxton and fellow Stoop Family members met up as a group in person for the first time to really “sit down and break bread like a family.” Turns out, a female member of the group also happens to be one heck of a cook. Her handle on Zello is “Awesome Trucker,” Claxton says, “and we all call her A.T. She’s an amazing cook. Words can’t explain it.”
After that experience, fast-forward to the Great American Trucking Show this past August in Dallas. “We wanted to do the same thing, but the turnout wasn’t as large. There were five of us there, and we had so much extra food that A.T. had the thought – ‘This extra food, what do you think about giving it out to the homeless?'”
Ultimately, the crew plated most of what they had and could transport — 18 plates — and served it to people near a shelter within the relative orbit of the Convention Center in downtown Dallas.
So many people poured out of the shelter there that “we went back to where we were staying and prepared another 20 or 25 plates’ worth and returned that night,” Sunday after the show closed, Claxton says.
After the experience, in conversation with A.T. and others, the Stoop determined “this is something that needs to continue,” Claxton adds.
With an initial goal of reaching 200 people in Louisville, funds raised via a Gofundme account Claxton set up for the purpose ultimately nearly doubled that number after close to $5,000 was garnered.
The crew distributed the vast majority of those meals on the streets, set up principally under an overpass at Jackson and Jefferson streets and near the Wayside Christian Mission, Claxton says. “We don’t do the shelters, we do the streets.” There are a couple reasons for that. “First of all, the shelters feed three times a day – and not everybody on the streets is allowed into the shelters,” for a variety of reasons. “We’re not there to judge, we’re there to feed. What happened in Louisville, though, is we ended up going into the shelters – we ended up going into the dorms” to serve those in wheelchairs who couldn’t walk out and get across the gravel lots from the mission to where the Stoop was set up.
The crew also set up near the Salvation Army near Brook and Breckinridge, and served some under overpasses between and near both points.
If things proceed according to plans being laid currently, the group hopes to go even bigger at the Great American Trucking Show. After the experience at MATS — “A.T. was awake for 48 hours straight,” Claxton says, working with just a couple conventional ovens for baked beans and more, and everybody put in extremely long hours with the grills — “I’ve been talking with caterers in Dallas.”
Find Claxton via his “Choice M.A.S.” social profiles and The Stoop on Zello here.