The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) will kick off its annual Truckers for Troops campaign on Nov. 9. It will run until Nov. 16.
OOIDA, a trucking trade group headquartered in Grain Valley, Missouri, launched the first Truckers for Troops fundraising effort in 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom to raise money to send care packages to U.S. troops serving in combat zones.
Since its inception 13 years ago, the annual campaign has raised nearly $670,000. Its donations also help several veterans facilities in the U.S., including those that provide housing for wounded, disabled or homeless service members.
Truckers often are military vets
OOIDA spokesperson Norita Taylor told FreightWaves that approximately 36% of its members are military veterans, according to the latest data collected from its annual member profile survey conducted in September by the OOIDA Foundation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data, of the 3.5 million truck and delivery drivers, one in 10 is a military veteran.
Ways to donate
Truckers who join OOIDA during Truckers for Troops week will receive a discounted membership rate of $35, with 10% going to the fund to help service members and veterans. OOIDA will match the funds raised during the weeklong campaign.
In 2020, the Truckers for Troops program will also assist the Veterans Community Project (VCP), which is building a “tiny house” community for homeless veterans in Kansas City, Missouri. VCP locations for veterans have also been set up in Longmont, Colorado, and St. Louis.
“VCP also provides comprehensive services such as navigating the Veterans Administration and its benefits, identification services, mental and physical health referrals and financial counseling,” according to the OOIDA release. “In addition, veterans can receive hygiene kits and access to a food pantry. All services are free of charge.”
VCP’s goal is to not allow “any veteran fall through the cracks.”
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 37,800 veterans are homeless on any given night across the country.
“We are looking forward to helping the VCP — however we can,” Taylor told FreightWaves. “There has been a declining need for overseas care packages, but we send packages to veteran residential homes according to their requests.”
For example, she said a few facilities requested musical instruments for their community rooms.