Truckers’ group delivers record level of holiday support to haulers in need

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Updated Dec 30, 2019 (TCGO) held its twelfth annual “Santa Call” this week. With the organization’s Canadian cofounder Greg Manchester at the helm as Santa himself, the team began with the cases whose nominations revealed the most difficult circumstances. One of the truckers whose story stood out was a driver who, instructed by dispatch to continue to advance a load in subzero temperatures without a functioning heater, wound up losing an entire leg to frostbite. What he also lost as a result of that event: the ability to provide for his family.

More than $13,000 was raised and distributed to those in need by TCGO this year, a single-year record for the nonprofit.More than $13,000 was raised and distributed to those in need by TCGO this year, a single-year record for the nonprofit.

Meanwhile, the company he worked for at the time denied the medical event was work-related, plunging the driver into the most desperate of straits.

As a fly on the wall for the TCGO Santa calls for the second consecutive year, I can only wonder at how the cost tradeoffs this trucker’s company appeared to want to make in the case: the legal costs of fighting a workers’ comp claim versus the cost of a truck heater repair.

Narratives of cases like this one were read by Mary, the wife of cofounder Mark Abraham, and the calls to recipents then were made by the golden-voiced Manchester, who reminded us that Santa is from Canada as he introduced himself  as such, informing the trucker that a cash gift of $500 is on the way. The team would then regale the recipient with a rousing “Merry Christmas” and move on to the next call.

TCGO was chartered in the midst of the Great Recession by a small team of actual gearjammers who, according to the organization’s website, “wanted to help truckers and their families that have fallen on bad times.” In what may suggest new challenges faced by the industry at large, the charity received more than double the nominations for aid this year, compared to last.

“We knew there would be several challenges for our organization in 2019,” said Abraham, TCGO president. “Reports of a weakening economy and a record number of trucking companies closing this year highlighted that we needed to have a larger awareness campaign to raise more funds than ever before this year.”

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Among the volunteers who stepped up to meet this need were members of the singer-songwriter community among truckers, including 2019 Trucker Talent Search national runner-up Ken Freeman, who took on the task of organizing other musicians to make social media videos on behalf of the charity. Several stepped up, including fellow 2019 runner-up Jason Henley, past winners Keith Sampson and Mandi Jo Pinheiro, and Bill Weaver, who dedicated his latest music video, produced by TCGO member Tom Kyrk, to the charity.

After an hour or so of the calls, I came away with a renewed sense of just how dangerous working in this industry can be, and just how frequently fragile its safety nets prove themselves. If you are in decent health, with a little dough in the bank, be grateful, and as Mary Abraham said, “consider being a volunteer next year.”

Tom Kyrk noted the organization this year was assisted in its quest to step up for the unprecedented number of requests for help thanks to likewise unprecedented levels of support from these sponsors, some of whom also donate products for sale via the TCGO online store, whose proceeds go to help the cause:

RoadPro Family of Brands, DPF Regeneration, Hoffman Trucking, Air-Tabs, Let’s Truck, Oil Purification Systems, Mack, Volvo, Real Women in Trucking, Women’s Trucking Federation Canada, OOIDA, OBAC APRAC, First Choice Logistics, Site Doctor911, Purolator, Teamsters Local 938, Flow Below,, Brake Safe, Pittsburgh Power, and Brittani Martel.

For more information visit the organization’s website or find TCGO via its social media profiles.