“When I saw your Facebook page, I immediately thought of my husband, Carmen. He would have been sooo on board with this, and I wanted to do something to help raise awareness,” Crystal DiLuzio shared.
Carmen DiLuzio owned a business towing cars for years, but he had a desire to drive the bigger rigs. He went to school and got his CDL. At first he was OTR and would be gone two to three weeks at a time and only home two-three days at a time.
Crystal recounts, “It was a tough transition for us, but Carmen was great and would always make sure he talked to the girls no matter what time of day or night. We could always reach him.”
He eventually got a local job and was able to be home most every night. “Life was good then,” remembers Crystal.
There was one place where he delivered that made Carmen nervous. He was a safety conscious person, and told his wife he was fearful there would be an accident at this particular business, due to their practices. Crystal said she always told him to be extra careful around there. On a July afternoon in 2011, Crystal couldn’t reach Carmen no matter how many times she called; he just didn’t pick up. She thought that was very odd, since he always answered the phone. When the police knocked on the door and told her there had been an accident, life changed tremendously for her and her daughters.
Things were really hard without Carmen. Crystal credits friends and family for helping her through the tough times.
That first Christmas they didn’t decorate the house … they were not in a festive mood and missed Carmen immensely. They spent Christmas Eve with Carmen’s family, and at dinner, her daughters said they would be out shopping for their dad right now. A counselor in the family said it may be therapeutic for the girls to go and buy gifts for their dad. Crystal thought she’d put them up on the mantle where the urn that held Carmen’s remains were. But her girls had a different idea.
“They said they wanted to buy a bunch of things and hand them out to truckers. They said that their daddy was a trucker and truckers bring products and gifts to all the stores, so they wanted to give out gifts to the truckers who may be out on the road during the holidays. I had to hold back the tears…I had that proud mama moment when they suggested that,” Crystal shared.
The first year was a small affair: a handmade sign saying, “We’d like to give you this gift in honor of our daddy in heaven,” and five gifts and baked goods handed out. And Carmen’s Crew was born.
Crystal posted the pictures on Facebook, and family and friends asked to participate the next year.
“They collected travel-size items all year,” she said. “My uncle, who is a certified Santa, came out to celebrate last year, and we made 55 bags for truck drivers, but the girls wanted to go really big this year and set the goal for 100. I didn’t know how we would do it, but God provided.”
In addition to delicious treats, batteries, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, hand warmers, and other needed items, this year the group decided to also include Truckers Against Trafficking wallet cards and window decals with each bag.
“There was a time when a lady jumped into Carmen’s truck … she was being prostituted, and he told her he wasn’t interested, and he was a married man,” Crystal recalled. “She told him she was scared, because her pimp would beat her up if she didn’t make a certain amount of money. At that point, he went into protective mode. He told her she could stay in the truck, and he would call the cops for her. At first she was afraid that the police wouldn’t treat her right, but Carmen assured her he would make sure they did. After talking with him for awhile, she agreed to the call, and the police came out and helped her get away. I remembered that story he told me when I saw your Facebook page. He would have been on board with this organization. This would have been his thing. My heart is touched that we could connect with TAT and help raise awareness about trafficking. I have a big old soft spot for truckers, and this is just wonderful.”
The 100 bags were delivered to truckers this year at the Delaware Welcome Center in Newark, Delaware amidst smiles and fond reminiscing of Carmen DiLuzio. What a testament to a wonderful father and husband, a proud American trucker, and an honorary TAT who did the right thing. We are proud of the DiLuzio women and the rest of their crew for taking a personal tragedy and turning it into kindness for others. We know Carmen is proud of his crew as well. How could he not be?
Well done and Merry Christmas!
Crystal DiLuzio and her daughters: Gianna and Toni