You’ve read about them before, the more than decade-old organization called the Truckers Christmas Group — their annual Santa Calls are the stuff of holiday-happy legend in trucking and both the culmination of and final personal highlight for what starts as a fundraising effort to help bring Christmas to trucking families in need. Recall our own “Long Haul Paul” Marhoefer’s narration of the last couple years’ worth of group calls to notify recipients of donated funds.
The nonprofit group’s 13th annual campaign gets under way today following record hauls in both 2018 and last year, when the $14,500 distributed among 29 families all told almost doubled the prior year’s record. Those totals added up to the more than $100K the organization has distributed in its support efforts to date.
The group’s board had already been looking at 2020 with concern well before the COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading around the U.S. and Canada, the group said in a release. “According to numbers from Broughton Capital, close to 800 trucking companies went bankrupt in the first three quarters of 2019, leaving more than 3,000 drivers without jobs. Compounding this issue was the surprise closure of Celadon” late last year.
With the stressors on freight markets this year, several other large companies have filed for bankruptcy, the group noted, “affecting close to 5,000 employees. These companies have not entirely shuttered operations, but TCGO is observing to see the impact on their drivers and the industry,” not to mention freight volume reductions for some operations impacting income for the year.
The group’s anticipating yet another record year for applications for assistance from trucking families in need, and not just from unemployment but severe illness and other catastrophic events. Often enough, the group has found through the years, it’s not just one issue but multiple unforeseen circumstances that conspire to create financial distress for a family.
There’s a bright spot in the conditions we find ourselves in as an industry and nation, however. Noted group President Mark Abraham, “Interest in volunteering is also up from last year. We foresee an increased need for both volunteers and donations to be able to handle the anticipated demand.”
Save these dates: Nominations for just to whom the assistance should go will open on the Truckers Christmas Group website starting Nov. 1 and close on Dec. 5.
In addition to monetary donations made on the group’s website, donors can purchase items donated to their online Christmas store. While some things are in stock now, volunteers are working to increase inventory by Nov. 1, when the store is scheduled to go into full swing. Businesses and individuals generously provide items sold in the TCGO Christmas Store, and new items will be listed regularly. People are encouraged to visit TCGO’s website often to see what is new.
The group added that donors can also give their time by helping to vet candidates, solicit nominations and raise awareness of the mission this season and in years to come. New volunteer recruitment has begun on the TCGO Facebook Page and through its Twitter account and will continue through early October.