It’s early on a Wednesday morning – 5 a.m. to be exact – the time of the week when Ted Wish would normally be asleep in bed, about to enjoy his day off. But this Wednesday is different, and like every other work day, Ted is up before dawn, climbing into the cab of his tractor-trailer, preparing to hit the road.
Ted has been an over-the-road driver for Frito-Lay for 15 years, joining the prestigious Million Miler Club a year and a half ago (though he’s logged more than 3 million safe miles in his 34-year career), delivering product to retailers throughout New England. But today’s route is different, leading to the parking lot of XFINITY Theatre in Hartford, Conn., where a team of more than 100 volunteers and Feed the Children staff unload and distribute PepsiCo products, as well as books, fresh produce and daily essentials to families in need.
When reminded that it’s his day off, Ted simply replies, “I love volunteering my time, it’s who I am, and it’s something my wife and I really enjoy doing together in our free time. Donating your time doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps a lot of people.”
Ted is no stranger to community service. In his spare time, he volunteers for Wounded Warrior Project, Make a Wish Foundation, local nonprofit organizations and, most notably, Wishes on Wheels, a family friendly truck convoy that raises money for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
In addition to offering his expertise as a driver, facilitating the delivery of donated Frito-Lay and Quaker products, Ted also ensures the safety of volunteers and recipients on the day of the event. As a member of the Killingly Traffic Center Safety Committee, Ted is an expert on pallet jacks, carts, loading and unloading the rig and many other skills that provide optimum safety both on and off the road, which he maintains thanks to classes he attends annually. Ted’s proficiency in this area allows him to direct volunteers on how best to move large quantities of product safely and efficiently so it can be sorted, packaged and distributed to the receiving families.
Ted was quick to stress that many Frito-Lay and PepsiCo volunteers use their day-to-day job skills in order to make these events a success. “You’ve got to be a people person when you’re interacting with these families,” he said. “There’s teamwork, working together, people leading and others working in the background – we all work as equals, as a team. No matter where you come from or what you have, we all work together.”
Thanks to Ted and other Frito-Lay and PepsiCo volunteers like him, 800 Hartford families were provided with one week’s supply of fresh produce, nonperishable food items, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo products, water, daily essentials and children’s books on Sept. 14. Taking care of a family’s groceries for a week during this time of year allows parents to focus on getting their kids back to school rather than worrying about where their next meals are coming from.
“I was totally amazed by the number of cars lined up waiting, it took my breath away to see how great the need is,” Ted said. “I’ve been doing charity work for years, and this is amazing. It’s my first event with Feed the Children, but it won’t be my last.”