TCA Packs Hundreds of Boxes of Food for Needy Detroit Residents


Detroit, Michigan:

Yesterday, during the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) annual officer planning meeting, held August 31-September 2, 2009, at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, Michigan, TCA leaders tried something a little different: They took a break from their business meetings to package and shrink-wrap hundreds of boxes of food that would later be delivered to home-bound seniors and other needy residents of Detroit.

TCA Chairman Kevin W. Burch, president of Jet Express, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio, came up with the idea after Detroit was selected as the location for this year’s planning meeting—a three-day event that brings TCA officers and senior staff together to focus on planning the budget and future direction of the organization. Burch, who grew up in the Detroit area, was familiar with Focus: HOPE, a nationally recognized, Detroit-based civil and human rights organization that takes intelligent and practical action to fight racism, poverty and injustice. Focus: HOPE provides education and training, affordable child care, community arts programs and community development initiatives. It also utilizes scores of volunteers to pack and deliver boxes of nutritionally-balanced food to the nearly 10,000 low-income senior citizens who have no transportation or are otherwise unable to pick up food from Focus: HOPE’s food centers.

Once Burch learned of the need for so many volunteers in the city that the TCA leaders would be visiting, he asked the TCA officers, spouses and staff to consider deviating from the traditional team-building exercise that is usually a standard part of the planning meeting agenda. Instead, he suggested that they volunteer for the food packaging program.

“I could think of no better team-building exercise than working together for the good of the community in these tough economic times,” said Burch.

While at the Focus: HOPE facility, TCA’s group assembled boxes and stuffed each one full of items such as vegetables, pasta, beans and juice. Then they loaded the boxes onto pallets and shrink-wrapped them.  The activity proved to be highly rewarding for the TCA volunteers and very successful from Focus: HOPE’s standpoint.

Stanford Anders, warehouseman for Focus: HOPE, said, “My regular full-time staff was able to pack and load 5 pallets of food this morning, which I thought was pretty good. Then the TCA group came along and packed and loaded 15 pallets in just 2½ hours. At 60 boxes per pallet, that’s more than 900 boxes of food we now have ready for delivery!”

Burch is not surprised that his officers unanimously agreed to volunteer for the project, nor that they worked so hard. “We started out this morning at 7:30 a.m. with a full day of intense meetings, yet here we are at 2 p.m. loading hundreds of boxes of food in downtown Detroit,” said Burch. “Sure, we could have been doing something else, but we wanted to send a message to our fellow trucking executives that united, we can make a difference. This was the right thing to do!”