Paul Weitzer and Kurt Gerstgraesser are part of the 16-member group who have launched a fundraising campaign in solidarity with long-distance drivers who were “stranded” in Vorarlberg rest areas over Christmas. The widower says many companies in the country are donating a wide range of products – from drinks and food to hygiene products and work clothes.
The group packs goods into boxes and distributes them to truck drivers who have to spend time at rest stops far from home during the holidays. A total of about 120 packages will be distributed on December 24 from 9:30 a.m. Hardworking helpers drive their cars to parking spaces on the Vorarlberg A14 – starting in Ludesch, first heading south to Bürs and then on the other side of the motorway north to Hörbranz.
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How it all started
The idea for this campaign came from the daughter of a widower in 2020. She noticed that many drivers were stuck at rest stops for days during the coronavirus pandemic — and decided to give them a Christmas gift. She distributed the first packages with her boyfriend and father.
“We didn't get enough packages at first; there were more drivers than we thought,” Weitzer recalls. Despite initial difficulties, the campaign was a complete success and parcels have been distributed every year since.
“Sweeten the days a little”
The gifts are a welcome change for truck drivers, who often spend days at rest stops without any social surroundings, says Kurt Gerstgraesser: “We want to sweeten the few days they spend standing there a little bit. Simply with small gifts, with food, with everyday items — Everything they need every day.” Feedback from drivers is consistently positive. Many were surprised and grateful for the gifts, and even tried to give the “Christmas Angels” a gift in return.
Bring joy as motivation
For Wittwer and Gerstgrasser, the joy of truck drivers is the biggest motivation. “We have everything. We're fine. We actually live in abundance. And so, it's nice to be able to do something good for someone else,” Weitzer says.
The group also has a connection to trucks in other ways: In their spare time, members convert trucks into off-road motorhomes and travel with them around the world.
The two men and their hardworking assistants are happy for any support and invite anyone who wants to help them in their campaign. “We welcome anyone who has an idea and wants to support us next year,” Weitzer says.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”