By Lethbridge Herald on May 15, 2020.
For the past six weeks a group of dedicated local volunteers led by a woman on a mission has been ensuring truck drivers passing through Lethbridge have a place to stop and eat for free, and a place to go to the bathroom.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, many roadside rest stops were closed, and Lena Derksen started hearing stories of truck drivers she knew going on long hauls with vital goods without being able to find a place to stop and eat, or even go to the bathroom. She felt in her bones that just wasn’t right.
“My brother drives a truck,” Derksen explains. “He hauls medical supplies from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat and to Brooks. One of the other volunteers I have, their uncle is also a truck driver. So yeah, we have family that drives, and we have good friends that drive.
“These people deserve to be able to use a restroom and get a hot meal,” she remembers thinking to herself. “So the little bit I can do, I am doing.”
Derksen started out by buying $300 worth of groceries herself, cooking up some homemade buns, and preparing some sandwiches. She set up signs on Highway 4 and handed out the lunch bags to the truckers who pulled up.
When people started to notice what she was doing, volunteers and further donations came in. She was offered the use of the Pilot Flying J building on 43 Street South by a local business owner so the washroom in the facility could be put to use for a good cause. She set up a few chairs so the truckers coming in could sit and have a break as they ate.
Derksen is thrilled her idea has caught on, and she has been able to do her part to say thanks to all the truckers who labour tirelessly to ensure society is getting all the goods it needs during this time of pandemic.
“It’s amazing,” she says. “The truckers are just so thankful. They are just so positive; so grateful. The Lethbridge community has been amazing. I never thought this would get this big, and turn into something like this.”
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