OOIDA delivers toys to Children’s Mercy Hospital in KC

December 15, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Truckers are a charitable bunch throughout the year, but the holiday season makes their already large, philanthropic hearts grow at least three sizes. In the spirit of giving, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association teamed up with Target and Elite Comics to deliver a literal truckload of toys to Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Marty Ellis, the skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker, arrived at the Target in Mission, Kan., on Tuesday night to volunteer his services. Ellis was to deliver dozens of sacks filled with toys and other goodies to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Perhaps using the superpower of invisibility, Ellis and other superheroes completed their mission quickly and quietly.

Elite Comics at Target
Volunteering on behalf of Elite Comics, Wolverine shops for toys going to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. (Photos by Staff Writer Tyson Fisher)

Superheroes helping superheroes

There were no speeches, presentations or anything else grandiose. Target customers knew something was going on only after spotting a few superheroes with shopping carts.

Wolverine, Supergirl and several other comic book characters helped check off items on a massive shopping list. Children Mercy Hospital’s list is rivaled only by Santa’s. The people underneath the costumes – likely checking their lists twice – have been doing this for 11 years.


Based in the Kansas City area, comic book store Elite Comics has been putting smiles on children’s faces for more than a decade.

Dressed up as superheroes, Elite Comics volunteers make monthly visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital. A visit from a superhero is what many children going through a difficult time need.

During the holiday season, parents and caregivers can get a gift for their children at the hospital’s Snowflake Shoppe. Not only does the shop release the burden of leaving the building, but the gift is free. Donations come from a variety of people, including past patients, professional athletes, corporate partners and of course, superheroes.

Jessica Porter (aka Supergirl) discovered the hospital’s Snowflake Shoppe when searching for more ways to help. However, a truckload of toys is not cheap.

William Binderup, owner of Elite Comics, collects money throughout the year. Raffles, exclusive books/covers and celebrity appearances in the store are among the ways Binderup collects funds.

This year, Binderup raised $28,000 during his 28th year in business. Next year, he plans to raise $29,000, then $30,000, and so on. At the end of each year, it is time to go shopping.

When asked why he does it, Binderup said he thinks about kindness.

“That’s what life is all about,” Binderup said. “If you can just be kind to other people. That’s the only thing that matters.”

With thousands of dollars in toys, Binderup needs some help transporting the donations to Children’s Mercy Hospital. The best people qualified for this mission are the superheroes that the nation relied on during the pandemic: truckers.

OOIDA delivers toys to Children’s Mercy Hospital

Organizers reached out to OOIDA, which has the right driver and truck for the job.

OOIDA volunteering for Children's Mercy Hospital
Marty Ellis was the superhero transporting donated toys to Children’s Mercy Hospital in OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker.

Ellis, along with OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh, left OOIDA headquarters on Tuesday en route to Target, the first of two stops. While at Target, Ellis and Pugh patiently waited in the back of the parking lot until it was time to load.

Once the superheroes were done loading the truck, Ellis delivered the toys to Children’s Mercy Hospital in a superhero-Santa’s sleigh-Western Star truck hybrid. Located in downtown Kansas City, getting to the hospital’s loading area is not exactly the easiest for a trucker. Fortunately, superhero trucker Ellis was behind the wheel.

At the hospital, there were no television news crews or greeting committee.  Ellis quietly parked in a small area in the back away from hospital staff, patients and visitors. The bags of toys were carried into an undisclosed area, complete with a security guard to ensure safety.

Ellis and Pugh hopped into the truck and drove away into the night.

“I think every driver out there would benefit from just getting involved, whether it’s your local church or local fundraiser of some sort, because it really does make you more part of the community,” Ellis said. “That’s why I enjoy getting involved in things like this. I just kind of feel honored that we were able to be just a small part of it.” LL