While the first Michigan Convoy, a group of local truckers hauling farm good to southern fire ravaged states, was a huge success, a second convoy this weekend is being planned and is gaining popularity. Andy Jahn of Croswell said more than 30 trucks have been scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon, bound for the southern states with loads of hay, fencing material and livestock feed.
Truckers from throughout the Thumb and Mid-Michigan involved in “Michigan Convoy” returned home early Monday after a quick trip to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Matt Schaller of Davison organized a group of seven semi-trucks hauling large round bales of hay, livestock feed and other supplies for ranchers devastated by the wildfire that swept over two million acres. One of the drivers, Eddie Fahley who works for Helena Chemicals in Imlay City and Croswell, said the impact the trip left on drivers and others who made the trip was overwhelming.
“It was very emotional, Fahley said. “To see it first hand, all the burned land, the animals that didn’t make it and to see the ranchers and their families, it was just a very special time. Even though they have lost everything, they wanted to take us out to eat, pay for our fuel, we didn’t want any of it. We were there to help them. When we got out of the trucks down there, the handshakes we had from them – I’ll never forget it.”
Jahn said the response has been overwhelming for Sunday’s voyage and he anticipates the numbers of trucks joining the convoy to grow before they leave the staging area in Perry, near the I-69 and M-52 interchange. He said as word spreads through social media, people from all walks of life are coming out of the woodwork to donate goods or funds.
Jahn said a big need is VISA gift cards to help pay for the trucker’s fuel. “We could use gift cards for sure,” he stated. “These trucks take a lot of fuel. Any cards we have left over when we get there, we will give to the folks down there or buy more products from farm stores when we are closer.”
He said they are also hoping to get a few Greyhound buses to transport those interested in helping unload the donations, once the trucks reach their destination.
Both Fahley and Jahn agreed, the focus is not on the relief efforts, rather on those who have lost everything, including their livelihoods of farming. Rebuilding what was leveled by fire will take years. In the meantime, generosity and compassion of those throughout the area, and across the Nation, will continue to pour down on their fellow Americans who lost so much.