Tractor Trailer Challenge encouraging residents to donate to those affected by Hurricane Irma

The Tractor Trailer Challenge is offering Moorestown residents a chance to fill a 53-foot-long tractor trailer with supplies for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Nancy DiPasquale and her family are offering Moorestown a challenge: fill an entire 53-foot tractor trailer with supplies for those affected by Hurricane Irma. The Tractor Trailer Challenge will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wesley Bishop Fields in Moorestown.

DiPasquale said the idea behind the challenge started in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy. Her family was living in Western Monmouth County at the time and lost power following the storm. She said the family was fortunate to have not been severely impacted by the storm, but they felt immensely for those who were affected.

She said her son was 7 at the time, and she and her husband wanted to use the hurricane as a teaching moment. For that reason, they gathered some boxes of items to donate to a Monmouth County distribution center that had been set up following the storm.

DiPasquale posted on Facebook in a local community group page that if anyone else had items they wanted to donate, they’d be in a local park from 1 to 3 p.m. to collect items and drop them off. Having heard no response to the post, the family went the park and were met with great surprise when an influx of people came and dropped off enough supplies to fill the DiPasquale families’ car.

Later in the week, when DiPasquale saw a woman offering a tractor trailer on a Facebook page, she reached out immediately and asked the town for permission to place the truck in a local park.

DiPasquale then took to Facebook once more to challenge the community to fill the truck. She said the challenge worked, and community members came out to donate toiletries, baby clothes, infant care items, toys, laundry detergent and other items.

“Everybody wants to contribute,” DiPasquale said. “When you watch something on TV, it leaves us feeling us helpless. People want to help, and it’s also a feeling of contribution and sense of community. It met so many needs.”

More recently, when Hurricane Harvey started to hit and Irma seemed imminent, she reached out to the trucking company she had used previously to see if they’d be interested in partnering with her again. She said the company was already participating in a similar effort but pointed her in the direction of McCollister’s Transportation Group in Burlington, who agreed to provide the trailer and transportation services down to Florida.

Having secured the truck on Monday, Sept. 11, DiPasquale decided to scurry over to the Moorestown Township Council meeting to ask permission to park the truck somewhere locally. The idea was well-received by council, and DiPasquale, who moved with her family to Moorestown two years ago, said she is eager to be partnering with the township on the event.

With the township’s help, DiPasquale and her team of volunteers — her son and his friends — will collect and organize donations dropped off by Moorestown residents, organizations, schools and businesses over the course of the two-day event.

All items donated will be delivered directly to a relief organization — yet to be determined — in Florida for distribution. As of now, DiPasquale is waiting for word back from several organizations she’s contacted about what supplies are best to donate. She said as cleanup efforts get underway in Florida, it will become clearer what’s needed, and she will post a list of donation items to her newly created website for the event.

In the meantime, DiPasquale is trying to get the word out and make donating a community-wide effort among Moorestown residents.

“It’s not about us,” DiPasquale said. “It’s the whole idea of getting the community together.”

To stay up-to-date with the Tractor Trailer Challenge donation list, visit https://www.tractortrailerchallenge.info/