WILLARD – By Cari Doutre – April 15, 2020
For several hours on Wednesday, April 15, and in the frigid cold and rain, a group of local businesses and volunteers braved the weather to show their gratitude towards a much needed, and essential, part of this country’s backbone – truck drivers.
At the Willard Port of Entry in Box Elder County, more than 20,000 trucks pass through (north and south bound) every day. That averages to around 700 every hour.
For Val and Julie Stokes of Tremonton, they know what the life of a truck driver means. They also understand the importance truck drivers, and entire trucking industry, are to the country.
The Stokes' own Stokes Trucking in Tremonton, a family owned business for over 40 years. The couple know how to get work done, and how to show appreciation for those that don’t normally get any recognition.
“We’re hearing a lot every day on the news about healthcare workers, and we should be. They’re risking their lives to help people. Well, so are truck drivers. They can’t shelter at home. They can’t quarantine, they’ve got to go drive. They’ve got to go here and there and all around the country to do their job to keep bringing the things that we need to survive,” Val said.
Zan and Vivian Sharp, owners of Sharp Trucking in Wellsville, hosted a free lunch appreciation event for truck drivers on April 1, at the Willard Port of Entry. It was this act of gratitude and generosity that sparked the Stokes’ efforts.
“We were inspired by our dear friends Zan and Vivian Sharp. We’ve been good friends with those guys for many, many years,” Val said.
The Stokes' don’t take credit for the truck driver appreciation lunch they held on April 15. Instead, they thank everyone that donated time, money, effort and supplies. The Stokes’ got the ball rolling and organized the event but they couldn’t have done it alone.
“It’s not just us,” Val said. Story continues below...
The Stokes' contacted several others on their long list of generous business owners and friends, and everyone was quick to help.
“Everybody was very enthusiastic and happy to do something for drivers,” Val added.
Four of those major sponsors for the lunch were Utility Trailer Sales in Salt Lake City, Great Dane of Salt Lake, Premier Truck Centers and Jack’s Tire and Oil.
Also, on the list of generous businesses that contributed to the event are King Farm’s Trucking, Niagara Water, Loanstar Trailer Rental Solutions, Utah Trucking Association, Renegade Rentals, Perry Port of Entry and Stokes Trucking.
Apple Spice Café & Bakery from Logan also helped with the lunch by catering the event.
The bakery prepared 1,500 boxed lunches while the owner of Apple Spice Café & Bakery, Jason Henderson, personally hand delivered them at the Willard Port of Entry.
“It was wonderful to team up with a classy and generous company, Stokes Trucking, today,” said Henderson.
“America needs more Val and Julie Stokes,” he added. Story continues below...
"Renegade Rentals found out what we were doing and donated the canopies and tables and chairs. I thought that was so nice of them," Julie said.
Those canopies were much appreciated as it rained for most of the event.
Brandt and Jenny King, owners of King Farm’s Trucking in Tremonton, spent several cold and rainy hours passing out lunches. All because they too understand the value and importance of truck drivers and the trucking industry to the country.
“Everything in their lives to the roof over their heads to their bed, their toothbrush, their clothing, their food, the car they drive, the fuel that’s in the car – just find me anything that truckers don’t bring. We bring it all,” Val said. “No one thinks about that when there’s not a crisis. Nobody appreciates what over the road truck drivers do.”
During uncertain times such as now with the COVID-19 pandemic, truck drivers are also feeling the impact.
“Things aren’t easy for truck drivers, especially right now. There’s a lot of things that we don’t think about. We would be in trouble without healthcare workers. We would be in really big trouble without truck drivers,” Val said.