Lutheran trucker to repeat Christmas delivery

After Hurricane Katrina, trucker Craig Hansen delivered everything from diapers to generators to families on the Gulf Coast as part of 15 relief shipmentsxmas trucker sponsored by LCMS World Relief/Human Care and Orphan Grain Train.

Now the 30-year trucking veteran hopes to repeat what he calls one of the most special of those deliveries: a Christmas shipment of toys for struggling families served by The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd’s Camp Biloxi in Biloxi, Miss.

“Every time I go down there, I feel like it shouldn’t be that bad in this country.  But it is, and it hurts the kids the most,” said Hansen, who, along with fellow trucker Ron Johnson, drove last year’s toy shipment and helped fill it, spearheading a collection of donations with the help of LCMS World Relief/Human Care. 

This Christmas, Hansen is gearing up for yet another special delivery.  Once again, he plans to trade his ball cap for a plush red topper and load his tractor-trailer with toys that Camp Biloxi Director John Coyle says will be much appreciated.

“Huge needs still exist here, but donations have dwindled,” Coyle said.  He estimates that more than 2,000 area families still live in FEMA trailers and more than 4,000 individuals remain as clients of the Lutheran relief camp.

Even people who are back in their homes struggle with refinancing two mortgages into one.  Many still await promised grants.

“This time of year, trying to buy gifts for loved ones is extra hard,” Coyle said.

Good Shepherd plans to repeat last year’s “Gifts Galore” celebration, inviting area families for fellowship and to choose gifts for their children.  Last Christmas, the church distributed more than 1,800 toys, including many supplied by the Hansen/LCMS World Relief/OGT shipment.

“It was a way we showed that God loves them and bring them into our fellowship,” Coyle said.

This year, Hansen, a member of Bethany Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, Mo., enlisted the support of fellow congregants, his Teamsters Local 682, and Toys R Us, which provided a generous discount for last year’s shipment.

The trucker, who owns his rig, will cover fuel costs and other delivery-related expenses.  “All donations will go to buy toys for the kids,” Hansen said.  “I’ve been trucking for 30 years, and I’d never felt God calling me to do anything until now.  It feels good.”

Donations to purchase toys for delivery to The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Biloxi, are requested before Dec. 19.  Make a contribution through LCMS World Relief/Human Care by sending a check (earmarked “Biloxi Katrina Victims” in the memo line) payable to LCMS World Relief/Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-9810; calling the toll-free credit card gift line at (888) 930-4438; or giving online at http://givenowlcms.org.

For more information, call LCMS World Relief/Human Care Resource Allocation Manager Tim Schlueter at (800) 248-1930, Ext. 1397.

Posted Dec. 5, 2006

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