Trucker Buddies, OOIDA has student gifts for when you visit

July 31, 2019

Land Line Staff

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If a professional truck driver is an OOIDA member and a participant in the student mentoring program Trucker Buddy International, OOIDA can provide some gifts for the students when the trucker visits.

Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization started in 1992. It is dedicated to helping educate and mentor schoolchildren via a pen pal relationship between professional truck drivers. The children are in kindergarten through eighth grade. Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week drivers share news about their travels with their class.

All participants in the Trucker Buddy program are volunteers. Driver participants must hold a valid commercial driver’s license. They also must undergo a criminal background check before joining the program.

Drivers are asked to communicate to the class in postcards, emails, letters, pictures, social media, or by using the Trucker Buddy iPhone and Android apps. The Trucker Buddy iPhone and Android apps are free and allow a driver to send the teacher pictures with the location on a map. The class can also follow their driver around the country, if the driver and his company allow it.

Teachers use these communications to generate lesson plans about geography, math, science, social studies and more. The students will write letters back to the driver about what they learned.

The teacher manages all aspects of the students’ involvement in the Trucker Buddy program, including all correspondence between a driver and students.

Frequent and consistent correspondence with an assigned class is essential to the program. Drivers are asked to write to their class as often as possible for the entire school year, typically September through May.

Drivers write about what they are hauling, where they drive, and aspects of life on the road. Once drivers find out what the students are studying and when, they can send correspondence that supports the teacher’s lesson plans.

Once or twice a year the driver may take their truck to school and meet the teacher and class. If you are a Trucker Buddy volunteer and a member of OOIDA, contact Nikki Johnson, OOIDA marketing supervisor, to find out what materials are available to give the students. Truckers may choose one of the items. Enough will be sent for each student to have one. For items for your Trucker Buddy school visit, contact Nikki Johnson at Nikki_Johnson@ooida.com or call OOIDA at 816-229-5791 and ask for her.

Examples of materials available include bicycle license plates that say “Keep Trucking,” 99-piece puzzles featuring a truck surrounded by items related to kids a truck would deliver, an activity/coloring booklet called Tons of Trucks, yoyos that light up, and pens the shape of a stop light. The items available will change.

The Trucker Buddy program was started by truck driver and OOIDA member Gary King after he contacted a grade school in Williams Bay, Wis., and asked the principal permission to write to a class of students as pen pals.

The program has grown to about 2,000 truck drivers. Many of the Trucker Buddy officers, board members, advisers and truck drivers involved are OOIDA members. Among the OOIDA members involved are Linda Chaffee, president of Trucker Buddy, and Dick Pingel, a board member for OOIDA and also a Trucker Buddy.

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