In 2020, a global epidemic reminded us that life can be fragile. That sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things fall apart. Things change – things beyond our control – and our routine is upended. What we do in response to a crisis defines who we are – as people, as a society -- moving forward.
Covid-19 reminded us of what, and who, was essential – that some of America’s hardest workers were the ones holding things together at the seams. And that they needed help. Whether it was saving lives, stocking shelves or keeping the supply chain moving, some American citizens showed up for work no matter what.
Truckers play a critical role in keeping this country’s supply chain running smoothly. More than 80 percent of U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities. But long-haul truck drivers are also likely to develop health problems because of their work environment. A survey of American long-haul drivers conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found they are “more likely to smoke, be overweight, and are less likely to be physically active compared to other US workers.”
Truckers also represent a medically underserved population. To say the past couple of years have been challenging is an understatement, so it’s important truckers have avenues for assistance when they need it. That’s why St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund exists.
“We do two things,” said Shannon Currier, the Director of Philanthropy for St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. “We provide financial assistance for drivers who have been out of work due to illness or an injury. We’ll pay for rent or mortgage, utility bills, vehicle payments and insurance. The other side of what we do is providing health and preventative wellness plans. We have several resources on that side that include free vaccine vouchers, diabetes prevention and smoking cessation programs.”
Safeguarding drivers is definitely a mission Atlantic Logistics can get behind, which is why the Jacksonville 3PL donated $3,725 to St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund in September. The donation is part of the company’s Service 365 program, which donates to a different nonprofit each month.
“The Pandemic defined the true meaning of ‘essential worker,’” said James Crichlow, Atlantic Logistics’ Marketing and Communications Director. “The American trucker is the quintessential essential worker and the backbone of our economy. We believe in St. Christopher’s and are proud to support their mission.”
Donations made to the St. Christopher Trucker Relief Fund are typically used for its general relief fund for drivers needing assistance. The organization pays the bill holders directly, said Patton, once drivers apply and are approved. For her, the hardest part of the job is not being able to serve everyone.
“We can help over-the-road and regional truck drivers,” Currier said. “You want to help everyone, every driver in every circumstance, but that would take a whole lot more money…”
The pandemic has also made things challenging.
“When Covid-19 first hit, we kind of panicked a little. We thought we would have this huge influx of applications, but that didn’t happen,” Currier said. “Drivers are kind of isolated anyway, so we didn’t actually see an influx until the second year. Covid-19 is now number three on our list of what’s affecting drivers.”
St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund is doing well, despite the issues caused by the pandemic.
“The biggest challenge for us has been connecting,” Currier said. “Building relationships, that’s a big part of what we do, so that’s an important piece that’s been missing and we’re so happy to get back to that. People have really responded well to outreach from our organization to support drivers. A lot of brokers have reached out, looking for ways to give back to the industry, so we’re keeping up and doing well.”