Posted on December 11, 2015

Sinking Spring trucker one of Santa's helpers

By: Bruce Posten, Reading Eagle

If Santa suffered an injury and couldn't operate his reindeer-powered sleigh for some reason, he might have to desperately look for a substitute driver to deliver all those gifts.

John Garman, 51, of Sinking Spring might be a guy to call. And he would certainly know where to find some other helpers.

Garman may not know how to drive a sleigh, but he can handle a tractor-trailer as regional program director of the commercial driver's license program at Berks Technical Institute, Wyomissing. 

And, indeed, he recently volunteered himself and one of his instructional drivers, Roger Thebes of the McCann School of Business, Carlisle, to drive an 18-wheeler filled with more than 6,300 boxes of gifts, taking them from Ephrata to Manheim, Lancaster County.

"Roger was the driver and I was the co-driver," said Garman, who said he and his wife, Debbie, have five children and two grandchildren and are members of the nondenominational Christian church, Life Changed By Christ in Ephrata. The church has eight campuses in Pennsylvania and will soon open a new church in Leesport.

Garmin offered to help the church transport all the boxes of gift donations collected for Operation Christmas Child, a program of Samaritan's Purse, a national nonprofit. The presents ultimately will be distributed from Baltimore to needy children worldwide.

Operation Christmas Child asks volunteers to fill an average-sized shoe box with a toy, doll or stuffed animal, and other small items such as crafts, school supplies and hygiene products.

"Each of the Samaritan's Purse cartons packed into our CDL (commercial driver's license) truck contained anywhere from 16 to 20 shoe boxes," Garman said.

For his volunteerism, Garman had the blessings of Jeffrey Burkhardt, national CDL program director, and Joe Reichard, senior campus director at Berks Technical Institute.

Reichard said Garman's volunteerism as a regional director at BTI falls under a greater umbrella of philanthropy that the school calls 60 Days of Caring, which will be highlighted this year with nonperishable food donations to the Greater Berks Food Bank.

"As a school, we deal with some 500 different companies, many of them small, and we are trying to engage them with our 900 students to help with this food drive," Reichard said.

BTI will hold a food donation day on Dec. 17 from noon to 2 p.m. at the institute, 2205 Ridgewood Road, Wyomissing. All food will be delivered to the food bank on Dec. 18.