Ferocious fires consume communities, twisting tornadoes shred shelters and hectic hurricanes dissolve anything in its path. When disaster strikes, Salvation Army personnel race to aid communities in catastrophe. Volunteers brave varying conditions for unpredictable amounts of time.
Embassy RV CEO Mike Schoeffler heard about the Salvation Army’s need for volunteer housing in disastrous environments. Embassy RV donated a $160,000 vehicle to the organization.
The manufacturer was invited to the Salvation Army’s “2023 Better Together” conference in April in Dallas, Texas. At the conference with 1,800 Salvation Army officers, the organization said volunteers often sleep in cargo trailers and RVs.
Schoeffler said he thought Embassy could make a trailer that was “comfortable for them so after these people go through rough times on disaster days, they have a good place to sleep that is comfortable.”
In June, Embassy’s team, which includes a specialty commercial vehicle division, traveled to Salvation Army set-ups in Texas to strategize what was needed. The Embassy team designed a custom-built specialty trailer in August and finished building the trailer in December. The donation was a result of a myriad of suppliers who donated materials, such as Lippert. Supplier contributor names dot the front of the trailer.
Schoeffler said, “This was an Elkhart County collaboration.”
The 40-foot-long trailer sleeps 12 people. The trailer has three individual compartments, comparable to apartments. Each section has a separate door entry and lock. Four people can sleep inside each compartment. The trailer is equipped with heating, cooling and airflow. The trailer is constructed with composite material. The lack of wood and metal in the sidewalls, roof and floor eliminates rot and rust.
The vehicle is not equipped with a kitchen, nor with bathroom and shower areas
On Monday, Schoeffler handed the keys of the Salvation Army trailer to Bobbi Geery, Salvation Army southern territorial disaster operations coordinator.
“When disaster strikes,” Geery said, “It is all hands on deck. Feeding units and specialized equipment like this bunkhouse trailer will be deployed from all over the country to the point of the disaster’s impact.”
The specialty trailer deployed to Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday. The vehicle will be installed in Salvation Army self-contained base camps, where power, water and shelter are provided. The trailer will accompany Salvation Army volunteers to disaster areas and provide additional shelter.