For the second year in a row, members of the tight-knit Stoop Family of truckers and others gathered in Dallas, Texas, around the time of the Great American Trucking Show. Last year’s trip to Dallas, though, had been little more than a retreat, a chance to meet and fellowship with one another, before the folks on hand realized they’d made way too much food.
As I wrote earlier this year after the group’s first semi-formal homeless-support initiative at MATS in Louisville, in Dallas last year, the group plated up what they had and visited an area homeless shelter. The need there was so great, they got to cooking again and went back.
After gathering in Louisville earlier this year with the intent to deliver as much support as they could there, says I-65 Transport flatbedder and small fleet investor Fredrick “Choice M.A.S.” Claxton, they upped their game for Dallas this year.
“We knocked it out of the park,” he says, raising $8,700 in advance via funding platforms and the group’s website set up for the purpose to offset what was, ultimately, $11K worth in food, hygiene supplies and clothing delivered to more than 600 homeless residents in need at sites in Dallas, Ft. Worth and Arlington, Texas.
The experience for the group was “definitely different than MATS” in Louisville, Ky., earlier this year, where the group delivered close to 400 meals and kits of supplies to adults, exclusively. In and around Dallas, Claxton and company encountered families with small children and teenagers on the streets, making the experience doubly meaningful, and “heartwrenching,” he adds.
The outreach initiative occurred on the streets on Saturday, Aug. 24, between 3:30 and 11 p.m., with a bit of a later-than-intended start that day with a delivery from a local caterer, a mix-up on the amounts ordered and other issues. “We still made it happen and we got out there” to areas nearby to the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center and the Austin Street Center, to “a lot of overpasses,” where camps had been bulldozed earlier in the year, they learned.
Since Claxton and his small group in 2018 had been to one particular location, they were surprised this year to see “high-income housing where’d we’d gone,” he says, highlighting the speed of change in the urban core that can compound issues for the homeless.
The group spent Sunday, Aug. 25, reflecting on what they’d seen at a house they’d rented for what is becoming a periodic in-person meet-up for the group of truckers and others. (You can hear “Reflection day” testimonials from various participants, including “Professor H” quoted above, via a video Claxton put together detailing the Dallas effort at this link and below)
“We decided on Baltimore next year in July” for the next Truckers Feeding the Homeless effort, Claxton says, where he’s hopeful to not only distribute meals but also come supplied with clothing that could assist those among the homeless who are in the process of conducting job interviews. It’s a response to several ideas they heard from people encountered in Dallas. “A handful of people wanted those kinds of shirts, a dress shirt or a polo, something presentable to go on an interview with” — a shirt, as Claxton quotes one particular man during the “Reflection Day” portion of the video, “that I can talk to somebody in.”
For now, the group’s looking into formalizing their efforts to be able to take tax-exempt donations as a nonprofit.
The Baltimore effort is tentatively scheduled for early summer 2020.
“People ask how they can help,” Claxton says, “and we ask them to join us so that they can experience what we experience with each other.”