Paxton Van Lines (1610), in conjunction with Denmark-based Maersk Lines
, participated in the 2015 American Turkish Friendship Association
Syrian Refugee Blanket Drive. With the help of 35 Paxton employees and drivers during November and December, the blanket drive started with the delivery of 4,000 boxes to 50 collection sites throughout Virginia, Baltimore, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Over 4,200 boxes from 65 locations were collected, loaded, and staged in the Paxton warehouse while receiving an additional 700 boxes from local organizations, inbound shipments from New Jersey and New York, and 3 freight shipments from Embrace Relief
The Paxton Van Lines drivers delivered 9 trailers with more than 4,900 boxes
to DAMCO, a distribution service owned and operated by Maersk Lines, who donated their container service to Turkey. In total, 14 containers with a little over 144,000 pounds of blankets and clothing items were donated. The summation of donations for 2015 totaled 104,000 pounds higher than the previous year. The original project started in the fall of 2013 over a three week period when 29,000 pounds of blankets were collected and sent to Turkey for distribution. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
In 2015 the drive was expanded to 13 states and the District of Columbia, nearly tripling the donated materials from the previous year. A recent article in the Loudon Times-Mirror cited, “if the boxes containing the goods were stacked on top of each other they would exceed 1 mile in height - the equivalent of more than 16 Statues of Liberty stacked on top of each other.
"The drive has been a true community effort from the beginning with local governments, civic organizations, the faith community, and many others helping to make it a success. We are particularly grateful to Paxton and Maersk both who have donated their services for this project,” said Robert Lazaro of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC). When Robert returned to Adana, Turkey in 2014, he met a Syrian English teacher, who like many of his colleagues, was forced to flee his country. The teacher wrote, “Thank you very much to the reverend and generous American people. The Syrian refugees are really in need of this kind of support. I have seen the wonderful impact of the former shipment. Many thanks again from Syrian children to all Americans.”