SIKESTON -- A group of Sikeston-area truck drivers helping provide toys to local children has become a tradition for them, and their kindness is beginning to catch on within the community.
In its first year nine years ago, Truckers for Kids served 12 children in Southeast Missouri. Last year the family-run nonprofit organization supplied 128 children from 28 schools with Christmas gifts. Children from several counties including Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi and Stoddard have benefitted over the years.
Diane Cook of Morehouse recalled how the organization formed.
"It got started because a family needed help at Christmas, and since my husband, Preston, is a truck driver, his friends heard about it and started sending money to help," Cook recalled.
Truckers for Kids blossomed from there and so now, the organization receives donations from individuals and companies, according to Cook.
Cook, who works for the Sikeston trucking company, Pullen Brothers Inc., said her boss, Jerry Pullen, initially started the funding for the program.
Cook said she learns of children in need through school counselors and teachers. The school personnel (with permission from families) fill out a form and send back information on a family in need, she said.
Each child receives an outfit, hat and gloves and scarf if possible, toys, underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste and a goody bag with fruit and candy.
Cook said there is definitely a need for a program like this in the area as it's sometimes heartbreaking reading the children's requests which range from socks and underwear to a box of band aids and a mattress to sleep on at night.
While it is a lot of work and time-consuming to help organize Truckers for Kids each year, Cook said it's easy to get motivated each year.
"I keep doing this because I am so blessed to be able to help other people and give them a Christmas like I'm fortunate to give my family," Cook said. "It seems like donations get slim, but God keeps making a way."
For the entire story, see the Nov. 25 edition of the Standard Democrat or click here to log on to the electronic edition.