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That’s The Spirit, Alberta!

EDMONTON, Alta. - For the past six years, the 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign has generously delivered food and personal goods for those in need. It was a charitable organization first started by the ...

EDMONTON, Alta. –For the past six years, the 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign has generously delivered food and personal goods for those in need. It was a charitable organization first started by the staff and sole sponsor, Rosenau Transport, and subsequently joined by additional sponsors from the trucking industry, including Ocean Trailer, First Truck Centre, and Thermo King in 2007.

This year’s campaign was considered a resounding success, according to Colleen Nickel, coordinator for the 2008 donation and delivery campaign, which is based out of Rosenau Transport, at both the Calgary and Edmonton branches. It was a generous charitable idea that was first initiated by Calgary terminal manager Dale Hart, in 2002.

“She was just thinking of some way for the global transportation industry to come together,” says Nickel, present coordinator of the seasonal 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign. “It was a concept that came to her, about a way for the industry to give back as one.”

While transport partners have generously come on-board to deliver food to various food banks in the Edmonton and Calgary areas, Nickel reports that other volunteers on the committee sought financial and food donations by challenging other transportation-related companies.

From the funds collected, the volunteers are guided by the food banks, as to what to select for Christmas delivery. Along with general food items, the 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign typically concentrates on the purchase of baby food.

“Baby food is often overlooked,” says Nickel. “The biggest need is with families.”

This year’s call for donations was generous, with approximately $15,000 to $20,000 in financial support.

Combined with the value of the food, Nickel estimates that approximately $250,000 was collected for the overall two-city transport campaign. Two trailers – a 48-and 53-footer – were filled with goods in Edmonton, and a 53-foot trailer was delivered to the Calgary Food Bank. This three-trailer total was considered a record-breaker by organizers. “We’re very pleased,” says Nickel.

Apart from the food banks, the same 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign delivered three skids of personal toiletries to the Mustard Seed Shelter in the Calgary Foothills Industrial Park.

The campaign also assisted in a Calgary “Toyurkey Drive,” which was an appeal for donations, whether it be frozen turkeys or toys – a separate charity event sponsored by the Mustard Seed Shelter and the radio station Vibe 98.5.

This initiative collected 48 turkeys for those less fortunate, which were delivered in food hampers before Christmas, according to Nickel.

The seasonal volunteer campaign officially kicks off in October, but Nickel says ideas are discussed throughout the year.

The 20-member organizational committee includes support staff, as well as warehouse, dock workers and mechanics.

Organizing a charitable event amongst committed employees promotes strong company morale and generosity, according to Nickel.

“Giving always seems to raise the spirit” she says.

Nickel reports that Lloydminster’s 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign is also making strides, notably through a partnership with The Christmas Convoy which successfully served the midwestern section of Alberta.

The coordinator also gives huge credit to this year’s Edmonton effort, via Ken Rosenau, Jodi Manning and Justin Fillier.

Nickel encourages supporters to view final tallies and a list of sponsors, which will be displayed on the 18 Wheels of Christmas blog at:

“This is where you will be able to read all the donors from this year, our ‘aha’ moments, and the route travelled throughout Alberta. Watch for the trailer when it is in your area, with your name decaled on the sides.”

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