For the month of August, Celadon Trucking Services in Waxahachie is planning an event to show appreciation and gratitude toward its own drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Aug. 27-31.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week celebrates America’s professional truck drivers with recognition to the men and women whose hard work moves the goods and products that help contribute to the nation’s economy.

“This is a way that we give back to the drivers for the sacrifice they make every day for us to live and to be able to have what we have on our tables at home and in stores,” terminal manager Mitch Kahl said. “Our drivers are one of our most valuable customers.”

“The purpose of the week is to show our appreciation to the truck driving industry and to just say thank you to the drivers for all they do,” receptionist Kelli Cessford said. “The trucking industry really does a lot for us.”

This is the third year Celadon’s Waxahachie terminal has participated in the annual event, with organizers saying there’s a good turnout year after year.

“On any given day during that particular week, we may have any where between 50 to 100 drivers come by,” customer service representative Rachael Williamson said. “We had a pretty good turnout last year and we’re planning to have an even better one this year. We just want to give a little bit of something back to the drivers to show them how much we appreciate them.”

Celadon employees have joined forces to ensure a successful week.

“We all have to work together because it’s a lot of hard work,” Williamson said, saying that knowing all of their efforts paid off brings a reward at the end of the day.

“The best thing about helping to organize this event are the comments and the feedback we receive from the drivers,” she said. “When they show their appreciation, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Kahl, safety manager Jesse Guzman, Cessford and Williamson have worked together planning and making preparations to make the event possible for the Waxahachie terminal.

“Jesse and Mitch do all of the cooking on the grill while Kelli and I help to set up and prepare all the other food,” Williamson said. “I deal mostly with publicizing the event and organizing the menu. Our menu is based on the drivers’ comments or suggestions or favorites from the past two years.”

Each day features a different menu, ranging from briskets, chicken breast, beef and chicken fajitas, baby back ribs, cabbage, hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, French fries, ranch beans, grilled vegetables and more.

“We put together a full menu each year with different foods each day,” Kahl said, noting the serving takes place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day.

Setting a precedent for other terminals is what Celadon’s Waxahachie terminal has done, according to Williamson.

“Our other terminals are starting to do what we are doing as far as cooking and preparing their own food,” she said. “We’ve set the bar and now others are following.”

New at this year’s event is Mylinda’s Therapeutic Massage, which is open to Celadon employees.

Health specialists affiliated with Celadon’s corporate office in Indianapolis, Ind., will be on hand Aug. 29-30 to check blood pressure, vital signs and do other health screenings.

Also during the week, vendor-donated items will be raffled off or given to the drivers during lunch.

“Anything we receive, we give it back to our drivers,” Kahl said, noting that T-shirts, pens, koozies and other items have been given out in the past. “Although Celadon funds the foods, monies for gifts are from local vendors and vendors affiliated with the corporate office.”

Celadon Trucking Services is one of the top 10 truckload carrier in North America and one of the few companies that has capabilities of crossing into Mexican and Canada. Celadon is based in Indianapolis, Ind., with terminals in Richmond, Va.; Hampton, Va.; Greensboro, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Baltimore, Md; LaVergne, Tenn.; Laredo, Waxahachie and El Paso, Texas; as well as terminals in Canada and Mexico.

“The Richmond, Indianapolis, Greensboro, El Paso and Laredo terminals are also celebrating NTDAW the same week,” Kahl said. “We try to let people know either two or three weeks in advance.”

“This is my first event and I look forward to being a part of the group and helping out,” said Cessford, who’s in her first year with the company and says she’s looking forward to her first event. “I love people and I love barbecue so it’s just going to be good. I just like the idea of being able to help out.”

Celadon has trained 100 percent of its drivers in the Highway Watch homeland security program and was only the second truckload carrier among the industry’s top 100 to reach that milestone.

Celadon Trucking Services in Waxahachie is located at 7240 N. Interstate 35E and has about 3,000 drivers companywide.

For more information, contact Kahl at (972) 576-5974 or (940) 597-4872.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@waxahachiedailylight.com