Tractor Trailer Challenge returns to benefit those in need

The Tractor Trailer Challenge will take place at Wesley Bishop Fields from Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 with all donations going directly to victims of Hurricane Florence.

Volunteers at the Tractor-Trailer Challenge spent Saturday, September 30, 2017 and Sunday, October 1, 2017collecting donations at Wesley Bishop Park in Moorestown. The donations were driven to Florida for distribution to victims of Hurricane Irma.

For the second year, Moorestown is being issued a challenge: to fill a 53-foot tractor-trailer with essential supplies. The Tractor-Trailer Challenge will take place at Wesley Bishop Fields on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 with all donations going directly to victims of Hurricane Florence.

Nancy DiPasquale said as soon as her family heard the news that Hurricane Florence was approaching, she reached out to town council to inquire if they could potentially host the challenge again should the need arise. She said while the storm was less severe than forecasted, the flooding as a result of the rain and dams breaking created a devastating situation in the Carolinas and left residents displaced from their homes.

As a result, DiPasquale appeared before Moorestown Township Council last week to ask for its permission to park a trailer at Wesley Bishop Park. Council was supportive of the decision and gave DiPasquale the go-ahead. McCollister’s Transportation Group, Inc. in Burlington has donated a tractor-trailer as well as the transport to North Carolina.

Over the course of those two days, the DiPasquale family and a team of volunteers will collect supplies from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. DiPasquale said having organized this challenge twice before, she’s learned there is a desperate need for buckets, bleach, gloves, masks and a variety of other cleaning supplies to help remove debris and mold from homes affected by flooding. She said dried food, canned goods, diapers and can openers are essential as well.

The idea behind the challenge started in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy. The DiPasquale family was living in Western Monmouth County at the time and lost power following the storm. While the family was fortunate to have a generator, they felt compelled to help others affected by the storm. They gathered some boxes of items to donate to a Monmouth County distribution center that had been set up following the storm and 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 to collect items.

They were taken aback when an influx of people came and dropped off enough supplies to fill the DiPasquale family’s car. Later in the week, DiPasquale saw a woman offering a tractor-trailer on a Facebook page, and 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, and the challenge worked, with community members coming out in full force to donate.

DiPasquale brought the challenge to Moorestown last September following Hurricane Irma, and the town successfully filled a trailer with donations. Last year, several local organizations hosted their own collections and brought supplies to the challenge. So, this year, the organizers are encouraging local businesses, schools and organizations to act as drop-off locations and promote this challenge in-house.

The supplies will be delivered to North Carolina. DiPasquale said the organization and exact location have yet to be determined as she is currently in contact with two nonprofits and trying to determine where the greatest need will be by the time they send the supplies down.

In addition to supply donations, DiPasquale and her team of volunteers — her son and his friends — are seeking shirts for the volunteers as well as banners. The volunteers will not be accepting any cash donations.

DiPasquale said she has consistently been amazed by the outpouring of support the challenge garners each time. She said the true beauty of the challenge is the way it brings a community together to help those in need.

“It’s a feeling like no other when you can help someone you’ve never met,” DiPasquale said. “It’s quite humbling, and it fills your heart with joy.”

The full list of accepted donation items can be found at www.TractorTrailerChallenge.info. Local businesses, schools and organizations wishing to be a drop-off location will be listed on the TTC website. Organizations can email TTC@aol.com to be included.