Eric Long, a driver for First Fleet in Portland, is known as The Quilting Trucker because he enjoys making quilts in the cab of his truck. Needing something to do after resting, but before he can hit the road again, he’s made some modifications to his cab that allows him to turn it into a sewing room in less than 15 minutes.
The sewing room is complete with a design wall, a cutting board located in the passenger seat over his refrigerator, a cabinet of sewing supplies, a table for his sewing machine, an ironing board, and a power source.
Just how did he get into sewing? While serving in the Army, he was often stationed in places where it was difficult for his wife, Brigitte, to find a long-term, fulfilling job as many employers feared that being a part of a military family, she may not be on location for a long period of time. She needed something to do that would cheer her up at the end of a day working a job that she didn’t love, so she expressed interest in quilting, and Eric bought her a $99 sewing machine from Sears to get her started.
Later, the couple began a search for a hobby they could enjoy together. After trying several things, they couldn’t quite land on something they both enjoyed. Soon, however, Long realized how much he liked watching his wife quilt, and he started lending a hand. He now sews the quilt blocks and pieces them together to create the top of the quilt, and she takes the top and quilts it with the batting and backing on her long arm machine.
As Long travels around the country, he gives his quilts away. If he sees a VFW, American Legion, or Disabled Veterans group, he stops and gives someone one of the veteran’s quilts he’s designed.
This year, he donated six handmade quilts to Hands of Home before Christmas in an effort to draw attention to the food pantry and its efforts to feed those in need. He hopes to also encourage other crafters to consider donating some of their craft items to help the pantry or other nonprofits raise funds.
“We are extremely grateful for this wonderful man who has donated his creations to support the pantry,” Hands of Hope Food Pantry director Karen Cole said.
“I’m not in it for the glory,” said Long. “I’m just trying to bring some attention to Hands of Hope, so people who read this in the paper will think — ‘I make fishing lures. I could donate fishing lures’ or ‘I knit sweaters. I could donate a sweater.’ How many times have you seen on the news that a house has burned down and the next thing you know 50 people are giving money or buying clothes for the family because they saw it on TV.”