SALISBURY, Md. — Perdue Farms truckers and associates joined community volunteers on Dec. 5, to renew a 32-year tradition to deliver a little holiday cheer to residents of the Holly Center, a state of Maryland residential facility for people with mental and physical disabilities.
Inspired by the Red Sovine country music hit “Teddy Bear,” Operation Teddy Bear enables Holly Center residents to take a ride in a big rig with Perdue’s professional drivers.
The caravan of trucks, adorned with holiday decorations, navigates residents on an 11-mile loop through Wicomico County.
“Our residents so look forward each year to Operation Teddy Bear and the opportunity to take a ride in a big rig,” said Marlina Belote, director of volunteer services and community relations at the Holly Center. “We’re so blessed for what Perdue and its drivers continue to do for our residents.”
“Operation Teddy Bear really kicks off the holiday season,” said Jim Perdue, Perdue Farms chairman. “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 and drivers who heard the conversation over the radio.
After hearing Sovine’s song, two Perdue employees 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.
“This event really starts the holiday season off the right way for me,” said driver Brian Farber, who’s participating in his 13th Teddy Bear. “I love seeing the residents smile during their ride-along.”
Following the morning rides, the drivers, their family members, and volunteers were treated to lunch provided by Perdue and the Holly Center.