Truckers Final Mile launches Sleigh Bells & Santa program to give gifts to children

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Truckers Final Mile knows how hard being a truck driver and a parent can be. For children who lose a parent on the road, nothing can replace their loss. But maybe having a good Christmas can at least make them smile again.

That’s the goal of Truckers Final Mile’s newly launched Sleigh Bells & Santa program. Through GoFundMe, the non-profit organization is raising money to help the families and children of truck drivers who were killed on the road this year with their first Christmas without mom or dad.

“We can’t bring mom or dad back, we understand that.,” said Robert Palm, founder of Truckers Final Mile. “The surviving spouse is having to learn how to deal without having that husband or wife at home, and all the kids are going to want is for mom or dad to be brought back by Santa. We can’t do that, but maybe we can help get a smile, maybe we can help with the household bills, maybe we can help with gifts for the children. Notepads, video games, things that they would want during the year to help take their mind off the fact that there’s one more empty chair at the table.” 

Palm has been an over-the-road driver for many years, having entered the industry in 1982. After he suffered an appendix rupture in 2012, he felt the company he’d been working for at the time had abandoned him in the hospital. He knew other truckers may be experiencing the same thing and he wanted to make a difference. He launched Truckers Final Mile to reunite North American truck drivers and their families in times of crisis.

“I’d seen other cases around the country where that had happened and I knew that there has to be a better way, there has to be something we can do for truckers out there,” Palm said.

Palm said they have decided that Sleigh Bells & Santa will be an annual campaign. Funds for the program are collected exclusively through GoFundMe. All of the money made through the campaign’s GoFundMe account goes to the children, with the exception of transaction fees. To enroll a child, the organization needs a detailed email sent to sleighbells@truckersfinalmile.org.

For this year’s campaign, Truckers Final Mile has set a goal of $50,000. Fundraising ends Dec. 10 and they’ve currently raised $1,000 and have 14 kids signed up.

“We’re trying to raise $50,000. It’s our first year. We don’t know if that’s going to happen or not. We’re stopping on Dec. 10 because that will give us an idea of what we have and where we’re at, there have been some offline donations. We’ll be able to announce to the families prior to Dec. 18 by phone or email  that they’re involved, and then we’ll make it public on our website and Facebook page as to what we’ve accomplished,” Palm said. 

One trucker left behind three children. The campaign is low on donations at the moment, so they can’t offer a definitive monetary amount on how much each family will receive. Palm said they want equal distribution among the families. They will contact families Dec. 18.

“Right now we don’t know where it’s going to lead. We want equal distribution,” Palm said. “It’s going to be case by case only, that’s why we’re stopping it Dec. 10 so we can determine what the need is for each family by Dec. 18 so that we can announce it then. It may be that we get a good sponsor or a large sponsor real quick and we’ll be able to be more definitive about it but right now we’re under $1,000 and we have 14 kids signed up.”

To donate to Sleigh Bells & Santa, visit the campaign’s GoFundMe page here.

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