Trucker charity on track for record donations

Pilot travel stop canopy

A charity that helps truckers pay living expenses while off the road for illness is seeing record donations as the public recognizes truck drivers’ role in delivering critical goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The St. Christopher’s Trucker Development and Relief Fund (CTF) is more than halfway to its $1 million fundraising goal for the year, said Shannon Currier, CTF director of philanthropy and development.

St. Christopher’s has received three separate donations of $100,000 from the Pilot Company, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and Progressive Insurance (NYSE: PGR). Third-party logistics provider C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: CHRW) gave $50,000. 

Those donations alone make up more than half of all the money St. Christopher’s raised in 2019,” Currier told FreightWaves.

Record pace

“If we keep the pace we’re going right now, we should reach and surpass that goal,” she said. “But there’s no guarantee of that. But these significant and large donations are definitely helping make a difference.”

Knoxville, Tennessee-based St. Christopher’s dipped into its reserves in 2019 to provide assistance to all 347 truckers who applied. The stream of donations is helping refill the coffers. The record annual giving to St. Christopher’s was $720,000 in 2017.

The charity, which was founded a dozen years ago, pays essential living expenses, such as mortgage payments, utilities, vehicle payments and insurance premiums for over-the-road truckers forced off the road by illness or injury. It does not make direct cash payments.

So far, St. Christopher’s has just two requests for help from truckers infected with the COVID-19 virus.

“I still think there is probably going to be some influx,” Currier said. “It may not be as much as we thought it was going to be. We’re still seeing our normal applications that we see for other issues.”

New donors

When the spread of the coronavirus across the United States accelerated in March, public appreciation grew for truckers working despite the health crisis that led to shelter-in-place orders across much of the county. Media attention to the big donations attracted companies unaware of St. Christopher’s mission.

“COVID-19 obviously spurred some people to proactively go out there and look for somewhere they could support,” Currier said. “They might have had charities they had been giving to for a lot of reasons but knowing that COVID was going to specifically affect drivers, maybe it made them look for a different type of charity.

“We’re the only ones that can do it on the level that we have been offering support and so people were just looking for a place to give,” she said.

St. Christopher’s goal entering the year was uniting the trucking industry around the cause of drivers. The charity received a $20,000 donation from PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR), its first gift from a manufacturer. St. Christopher’s is talking with another truck maker about support.

“We all depend on these drivers,” Currier said. “They’re buying things in the fuel stops to help them be on the road every day. So we just wanted [the companies] to come together and join forces and say we’re behind these drivers.”   

Citgo Petroleum Corp., OneBeacon Insurance Group Ltd., Mars Inc. subsidiary Pedigree Petfoods and others directed giving to St. Christopher’s once they learned of it. 

“We’re hoping that some of these larger companies are starting to hear about us and take notice of the donations that are being made,” Currier said. “A lot of the support that we typically get falls in the third and fourth quarter of the year.

“We never feel comfortable with where we are because with more awareness comes more applications.”