Editor's note: This is part one in a three-part series on how the trucking industry gives back to the community.
Whether it is individual drivers who are supporting causes they care about or large trucking fleets contributing to charities, those within the industry are generous with their time, money and expertise.
“We are very proud of our communities and feel very honored that we can support them just a little bit each year,” said Greg Orr, CEO of CFI.
Transportation support is often needed during natural disasters, and trucking companies are on the front lines bringing fresh supplies to stricken areas.
“The industry plays such a vital role in collecting anything, from food, clothing and water for communities in need,” said Elisabeth Barna, executive vice president of industry affairs at American Trucking Associations (ATA). “Not only do companies provide trailers to store the goods, they also donate their transportation costs to deliver the goods to the communities.”
Herschel Evans, a driver for Holland, is a founding member of “Convoy of Care,” which delivers critical supplies to families affected by major natural disasters.
“The first thought is, ‘Let’s collect some things,’” he said. “Next is, ‘How does it get there?’”
The Convoy of Care got its start in 2016 when a local television station decided to collect items following a severe weather event.
“When the TV station started it, I was one of the first calls they made,” Evans said.
Since then, Convoy of Care has collected and delivered loads to several states and the Bahamas, which Evans said was the most challenging because of the logistics involved in delivering to an island.
As part of the Bahamas effort, the Georgia Motor Trucking Association secured donations and drivers to move the loads, which were first placed on a ship.
“It is all at no cost to the charity involved,” Evans said.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), founded in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, provides free logistics assistance to disaster relief organizations before, during and after catastrophic events.
In September, ALAN presented its Outstanding Contribution Award to Total Quality Logistics, based in Cincinnati. The logistics provider was honored for its Moves that Matter program, which provides funding to help non-profits and businesses defray the cost of humanitarian shipments, and for TQL Cares, an in-house initiative that raises millions of dollars and contributes thousands of volunteer hours.
CFI’s Orr said the trucking industry has a unique opportunity to donate in-kind services with the gift of transportation—and not just during a disaster.
Since 2015, CFI has sponsored Holy Joe’s Café, which supplies donated coffee to U.S. troops in over 70 countries.
“We donate between $50,000 to $100,000 a year of in-kind transportation to the military bases for transportation overseas to give a small taste of home,” he said.
Making spirits bright
The holidays are always a time of giving, and CFI, which is based in Missouri, first launched its Truckloads of Treasures giving campaign in 1993. It has collected $800,000 through donations from CFI’s employees and its independent contractors. The campaign begins in August, with a seven-week raffle ticket fundraiser. It also has book fairs, a chili cook-off, silent auction, and ugly sweater contest around the holidays to raise funds.
“The event culminates in shopping sprees across North America to benefit children and the elderly in need during the holidays, typically the first week of December,” Orr said.
Those at CFI’s terminals across North America select local charities to support. The biggest shopping spree is at the company’s Joplin headquarters. Other charities include the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, Area Agency on Aging, and Ronald McDonald House.
“Holidays are another opportunity to support our community, and we love a good food drive in November,” Orr said. Being involved in these events “creates an atmosphere that is contagious.”
XPO Logistics, a global provider of transportation and logistics solutions, supports Elves & More of Northeast Ohio, which provides items for children in need. In 2018, XPO employees helped assemble and surprise 800 children with bikes. The company did the same as part of its Christmas in July donation, surprising more than 500 children with new bikes this summer.
Shelley Dellinger, who provides marketing for Cargo Transporters, said the company makes contributions to several organizations.
“The most feel-good thing our drivers like to see is Wreaths Across America,” she said.
Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as well as 1,600 additional locations in the United States and abroad.
“One of our drivers made a trip to Maine to pick up a load of wreaths. She said that one load made all of her sleepless nights, waiting at docks, and time sitting in traffic worth it,” Dellinger said, adding that giving back makes people feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.