On Dec. 3, Perdue truck drivers renewed a 33-year tradition called Operation Teddy Bear. The event offers rides in big rigs to occupants of the Holly Center in Salisbury, Md., a residential facility for people with mental and physical disabilities.
“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 residents 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.
“For more than three decades we have been so blessed for what Perdue and their drivers so generously do for our residents,” said Marlina Belote, director of volunteer services and community relations at the Holly Center. “Our residents so look forward each year to Operation Teddy Bear and the opportunity to take a ride in a big rig.”
As Chairman Jim Perdue explains, “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 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.