After Arrow Trucking shutdown, stranded truckers get home via Facebook

Staffers of a truckers publication win a good Samaritan award for using Facebook to help stranded Arrow Trucking drivers get home for Christmas.

Three days before Christmas, Arrow Trucking shut down, stranding hundreds of its drivers in truck stops like this one, in Ripon, Calif. But a publication's push to use social media helped organize volunteers to get the drivers back to their families. On Thursday, the publication's efforts won an award.

Three days before Christmas, Arrow Trucking in Tulsa, Okla., shut down with no warning, leaving its 1,400 drivers to fend for themselves.

Its drivers on the road couldn't pay for fuel to drive their rigs home because their company-issued gas cards were deactivated. The situation looked dire – so dire, that the staff at Land Line, a magazine, Web, and radio media outlet covering professional truckers, decided to act.

That afternoon, the staff got the word out on Twitter and created a Facebook page to help stranded drivers. Volunteers, including other truckers and those involved in the industry around the country began friending the page, offering rides or other help to get the drivers back home for Christmas.

At Land Line, "people felt that they couldn't treat this as just another news story," says Norita Taylor, media spokeswoman for Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the truckers group that puts out the magazine. Then, "it just spread like wildfire." Overnight, the page had more than 1,000 followers. Within 10 days, it had more than 7,000.

Land Line's effort was recognized Thursday night when the Truck Writers of North America awarded the staff the first ever "Extra Mile" award.

Because of Land Line's social media campaign, a core group of volunteers organized themselves and began matching stranded drivers with offers to help.

"Sure, we launched it here from OOIDA and babied it through its infancy, but that’s just a minute piece of the miracle that unfolded," wrote Land Line senior editor Jami Jones in a February column.

In all, a couple hundred drivers were helped, says Ms. Taylor.

The social media effort, especially the Facebook page, was surprisingly good at getting the word out fast, Taylor adds. "Social media is great. But it does reach its own limitations. Somebody's got to pick up the phone and get in touch with somone."

And the fate of Arrow Trucking? It filed for bankruptcy in January. A bankruptcy trustee has found nearly $100 million in liabilities and less than $9 million in assets, according to Land Line Magazine. In an interview, the trustee told the magazine he hoped to be able to pay more than $700,000 to employees who've had bounced paychecks or made other wage claims.

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