SALISBURY, Md. — Perdue Farms truck drivers renewed a 35-year tradition on Dec. 1 of delivering a little holiday cheer to residents of the Holly Center, a state of Maryland residential facility for people with mental and physical disabilities, through its Operation Teddy Bear.
“Operation Teddy Bear helps kick off the holiday season for our drivers and the residents and staff at the Holiday Center,” said George Coffin, Perdue driver advocate. “Our drivers really look forward to this event, especially seeing the smiles on the resident’s faces when they take them for a ride in their big rig.”
Inspired by the Red Sovine country music hit “Teddy Bear,” Operation Teddy Bear enables Holly Center residents to take a ride with Perdue’s professional drivers. The caravan of trucks, adorned with holiday decorations, navigates residents on an 11-mile loop through Wicomico County.
Jim Perdue, Perdue chairman, said, “Operation Teddy Bear really kicks off the holiday season. Events like this really showcase the heart and soul of our drivers, and illustrate a commitment to giving back, including by those members of the community who volunteer their time each year to help make this event possible for the residents.”
The late Sovine recorded the song “Teddy Bear” in 1976. It tells the story of a CB radio conversation between a trucker and a housebound disabled boy who desperately wants a ride in a rig after his father, a trucker, has been killed. At the end of the song the trucker goes to pick up the boy to give him a ride and finds the boy’s street clogged with rigs driven by drivers who had heard the conversation over the radio.
After hearing Sovine’s song, two Perdue associates were inspired to launch the Operation Teddy Bear program at Perdue to help the residents of the Holly Center. Since the program’s inception, Perdue associates and truck drivers have been volunteering every year to provide rides for the residents at the Holly Center.
Following the morning rides, the drivers, their family members, and community volunteers were treated to lunch provided by Perdue and the Holly Center.
Salvation Army donation
Perdue associates in Salisbury, Md., also continued a decades-long partnership with the local Salvation Army to provide holiday gifts for children and families through the non-profit’s annual Angel Tree Program.
Several trucks loads filled with bicycles, clothing, toys and more were delivered to the Salvation Army. More than 400 families and 800 children in Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties will benefit from the program.
“Our Angel Tree program is one of our big Christmas programs where people purchase gifts anonymously for families and children,” said Salvation Army Captain Christina Tarntham. “It’s because of the generosity of long-time partners like Perdue and their associates, and others in the community, that we can support those who may be struggling this time of year.”
Families who signed up for the Angel Tree program picked up their gifts the Thursday and Friday before Christmas.
“Knowing that families are struggling for whatever reason, especially during the holidays, it’s important for us at Perdue that we can play a small role in giving back to our community through this program,” said Bill See, senior manager of community relations for Perdue. “It’s especially meaningful to know that those children’s parents will have something for them to give their children on Christmas Day.”