Stephanie Hudson and Stacey Phillips, alongside family, friends and coworkers, assembled and distributed some 20 supply bags before the holidays.
By Hilary Reeves
Stephanie Hudson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but moved to Cincinnati when she was seven and back to Jacksonville at 18.
“My first job was actually at an Ohio peanut factory called, “Gary’s Peanuts,” she laughed. “I had a great childhood with the best parents. My Daddy was a Baptist preacher, and both my parents worked their fingers to the bone to provide for me and my three siblings.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Hudson, married for 27 years with three children of her own, would do everything she could to help someone in need.
“Seeing how some of the less fortunate folks around town live really makes you appreciate everything you have.”
Currently a fleet manager/dispatcher for company drivers at Shoreside Logistics in Jacksonville, Hudson joined the company seven years ago with no previous experience in the trucking industry.
“I love the folks I work with – not just my fellow office staff personnel, but the drivers as well,” she said. “I love getting to know them and build relationships with them.”
Hudson’s coworker, Stacey Phillips, also a Fleet Manager, was also born in Jacksonville.
“I’ve been in Jacksonville for 45 years,” Phillips said. “My childhood consisted of playing T-ball and softball on the weekends. I spent a lot of time taking care of my little sister and brother. We enjoyed playing outside, making up games to play – we didn’t have money for expensive toys and electronics. I also loved going to church and singing with my me-maw. I have a 25-year-old daughter of my own named Amber. She’s truly my everything.”
Phillips has been in transportation for 24 years. In addition to fleet management, she works as a planner, coordinating Shoreside and the City of Jacksonville.
When Hudson’s daughter, Leighann, came to Hudson several months ago expressing interest in doing something nice for Jacksonville’s homeless population during the holiday season, Hudson said she immediately thought of Phillips.
“My daughter, son-in-law, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, several friends, and I got together to come up with a plan,” Hudson explained. “I knew Stacey had done something similar in the past, so I asked her if she would join in, and of course she was excited to help.”
“We approached management and fellow coworkers with the idea of asking everyone who would like to contribute monetarily or donate items for people in need to do so,” Phillips added.
According to Hudson, the response the pair received from their Shoreside family in their three-week collection period was overwhelming. They were able to put together 20 bags, each with a blanket, a beanie hat, a pair of gloves, a couple pairs of socks, personal wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, razors, a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, a comb, snacks, and bottled water.
“Every person we encountered was very thankful,” said Hudson. “One gentlemen that my son gave a bag to looked inside and said, ‘Oh my gosh, is there a pair of gloves in there?’ and started crying. Another gentlemen we encountered was lying on the cold concrete sidewalk under a blanket. He appeared to be sleeping, but when my son-in-law gave him a bag, he pulled it under the blanket with him.”
Creating a legacy of giving
Hudson lost both of her parents two years ago within two months of each other, and she wishes she would have spent more time with them and made more memories.
“I did spend a lot of time with my parents – but once they’re gone, no amount of time is ever enough.”
Both Hudson and Phillips hold up their children as the thing of which they are most proud, and expressed thankfulness for their rich lives – both personally and professionally.
“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the Shoreside family, including Stephanie and her family, for their participation in their project,” Phillips said. “They were a key factor in making this a success. I look forward to doing this project again in the future, and would I’d also like to a ‘School Drive’ in June assembles 20 to 25 bags of school supplies for kids whose parents can’t afford basic school supplies – pencils, crayons, paper, hand sanitizer – whatever they may need.”
“In all it was a very humbling experience,” Hudson concluded. “We’ll definitely be making this an annual holiday tradition, and we hope to be able to bless even more folks in the years to come.”