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Braving the Weather to Feed Stranded Truckers

December has been a month of winter storms and less than ideal weather, and America’s truckers did what professional drivers do – they kept on trucking. That is until road conditions were too poor to safely navigate, and in some cases, roads were shut down altogether, leaving travelers and truck drivers alike stopped along the interstate in frigid weather.

This was the case for many during the December 16th winter storm that dumped massive amounts of snow in North Dakota. In Dickinson, truck stops and parking lots filled with trucks whose drivers were unable to continue their journey until conditions improved.

While most who were fortunate enough to be safe and warm at home during this winter weather stayed there, the Betlaf family, owners of local Dickinson small business, Jon’s Home Comfort, got to work. They found out where truckers were parked and drove all over town delivering free meals. They knew that many restaurants were closed, making it difficult for stranded travelers to get a meal.

“We had our Suburban full of food in to-go boxes and just opened up our hatch and started walking around knocking on doors,” Jon Betlaf said. “We just knocked on doors and asked if they wanted food and water. Quite a few people were more than eager to take food. Some of them said that I have food, give it to other people who need it. So, we’d pass on down the line.”

The group delivered 145 meals in frigid temperatures and unforgiving wind to anyone who wanted them. They called other businesses in the area and secured some donated food which they used in their meal preparation.

“We just decided to make meals so we got some potato chips, that was sponsored by Braun distributing,” Betlaf said. “And then Cash Wise helped us with buns and desserts. The Wurst Shop, they gave some sausage and we donated sausage ourselves. Peterbilt gave us waters and we just gave everybody a healthy portion of sausage and a bun and a couple of desserts and some chips and gave it out to all the truckers who wanted it.”

This act of kindness was just that. “You know, we didn’t want to draw a lot of attention,” Betlaf said humbly. “We’re just trying to help people out.”

Ken Molitor, owner of The Wurst Shop in Dickinson, was more than happy to donate 20 pounds of country style sausage to the stranded truckers as he was once a trucker himself and had found himself in similar situations.

“Many times, I found some place to pull over and waited the storm out,” Molitor said. “My hat’s off to the truckers. It’s not really an easy job. Consider it this way — they’re people that are away from their home a big share of the time. They face every kind of road condition there is and they still get the products through.”