NOTE: The photos featured in this article are credited to Meals from the Heartland.
Truck Driver Appreciation Week gives Convoy of Hope the opportunity to honor the people who commit to providing relief on wheels. A recent event with partner Meals from the Heartland is a reflection of how involved drivers can be and how much they use their hearts to give back.
The 15th annual Meals from the Heartland packing event was the first since the start of the pandemic. The event gave local organizations and school groups a chance to pack meals that will contribute to worldwide relief efforts. Volunteers packed 3.4 million meals in four days, with only 44% of the volunteers they’ve had in the past.
Participants in the annual packing event loaded bags with rice, measuring each out in buckets, then packaged them in bags. Groups packed for about two hours before handing their duties off to the next person, which helped more groups participate.
“The energy they had trying to get everything packed — reaching that huge goal they set before them — was pretty incredible,” said Audra Weddle, Convoy’s International Shipping Director.
Driving Hope, Feeding the World
Events like this would not be possible without truck drivers. Convoy’s drivers pick up rice shipments, take them to the packing site, and move meals back to distribution centers. In the process, Meals from the Heartland provides Convoy with 22% of its rice per year.
“[But] it goes above and beyond just moving a product,” said Kelby Marlin, Convoy of Hope’s Transportation Director. “Almost every driver we’ve got has helped at this event a few times.”
Without those drivers, the delivery cost would be much higher. Greg DeHaai, Executive Director of Meals from the Heartland, said, “The more money we save, the more meals we make, the more for Convoy.”
Joining the Driving Team
Convoy’s volunteer truck driver program gives drivers a unique opportunity to deliver loads that interest them, like the Meals from the Heartland event. Pairing drivers with deliveries they’re most qualified to handle, all while doing nonprofit work, can be very fulfilling.
“Driving a truck takes experience, skill, and people who are capable of doing it,” said Kelby. “You can go trucking for a thing you believe in — taking something you trained to do for 30 to 40 years and do it exceptionally.”
Although many retired drivers contribute to the truck driving pool, Convoy works with drivers of all ages and assigns them to trips that most cater to their skills. And passion for the job is equally important.
“Our drivers have a servant’s heart that goes above and beyond just moving the product,” said Audra. “They enjoy feeling like they’re doing more to give back. It’s been really great to see that collaboration at this event.”
To volunteer for Convoy of Hope’s truck driving team, click here.