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Driver Lifestyles

Make a Difference: Become a Trucker Buddy

By Gary Addis
Posted Oct 10th 2002 10:25AM

Do you agree that kids are the future? Wouldn't it be nice if all those future motorists understood a few things about trucks? Wouldn't it be great if they knew how hard it is to stop, or turn, a tall, wide, top-heavy truck? Wouldn't highways be safer if four-wheelers avoided trucks' blind spots? Do you enjoy interacting with children?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you should become a Trucker Buddy.  Through its closely-monitored Pen Pal program, the non-profit Trucker Buddy organization allows children the opportunity to explore the America that most Americans never, in their entire lives, see.

Trucker Buddy matches truck drivers of all kinds with classrooms of young students of all kinds (grades 2-8). Through exchanged cards and letters and photographs of snow-capped mountains and city skylines, the children discover that geography, grammar, mathematics, history, science, et al., are useful things to know. That school textbooks are crammed with all sorts of interesting facts. That the learning process itself is fun.

A Trucker Buddy is neither parent nor schoolteacher; he doesn't grade papers nor scold for an unmade bed. A Trucker Buddy provides the only interaction many of these kids have with an adult who doesn't make demands.

In return, the Trucker Buddy begins to see the world through the innocent eyes of "his" students. The sunsets that had become mundane become opportunities to stop, and rest, and renew one's soul in the beauty of nature. Grazing antelope in a field of waving grass, a toddler's toothless grin, a bird pecking at bugs embedded in a truck's grill, these all bring a sense of oneness with life to the new Trucker Buddy.

How the Trucker Buddy Program Works

A new Trucker Buddy is assigned a class located within his or her geographical base, but usually not in the same town. All communication between driver and student is monitored by the school. Students are not permitted to divulge home addresses, personal email addresses, or telephone numbers. Drivers' letters are screened for content as well. The reasons for such precautions are obvious.

At the beginning of the school year, the teacher explains the project, and invites the students to write letters to their adult pen pal, their very own Trucker Buddy. Some of the letters contain drawings, some only words. Some are surprisingly articulate, and neat; some are a challenge to decipher.

The teacher may assist the student (most do not), but the words are always the child's own. About once per month, the teacher will address a thick packet of letters to the driver.

Several times during the month, a conscientious Trucker Buddy drops a scenic postcard in the mailbox. As often as he cares to, he or she takes a few photographs. Then, when he arrives home, he eagerly opens that thick manila envelope, and begins to read.

Some drivers reply to each letter, answering specific questions. For others, the writing of 25-30 individual, original letters each month is either too daunting or too time consuming. No one will complain, however, if the driver restricts himself to one letter, written to the group as a whole. But minimalist action invites minimalist reaction.

Remember that friendship is not awarded in a lottery. If you're faking it, if you don't respect the children to whom you're writing, your words will literally vibrate with falsity.

OK, you've convinced me, how can I help?

Although no gift of money is ever refused, Trucker Buddy doesn't actively seek donations from drivers. The organization receives most of its funds from corporate sponsors, including but not limited to: Caterpillar; OOIDA; Qualcomm; Meritor; Wal-Mart; Fed-Ex; Prime; CFI; and NAST, the National Association of Show Trucks.

What Trucker Buddy wants from you is a little of your time. And your good heart. Trucker Buddy was established by a driver, and is kept alive and worthwhile only with the active participation of thousands of drivers.

Don't merely complain about today's youth. Do something. Help today's schoolchildren to learn, to grow into the right kind of adult. Please visit Trucker Buddy online at Trucker Buddy.Com Search the website, read the FAQs, decide for yourself whether you want to become involved.

Web Information
Trucker Buddy

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