Meals On Wheels volunteer Mark Kempf has delivered meals every day to seniors who can’t prepare their own for almost eight years, he said.
“We have older volunteers who are retiring for health reasons or moving away,” Donna Anderson, volunteer coordinator, said.
Emory and Gerry Fielding, 85 and 82, volunteer as a pair once a week and whenever Ms. Anderson calls them to help with extra routes, Mrs. Fielding said. They had already volunteered three days last week by Thursday.
“That’s very unusual,” Mrs. Fielding said.
Volunteers save the organization more than $600,000 a year, executive director Mike Powell said. If there aren’t volunteers, the staff has to make the deliveries themselves, taking away from their work in the office, he said.
“If we have enough volunteers, we can feed more and more people,” Powell said. “It’s very simple work. If a person has a couple hours a week, we can work with that. It’s not a tremendous time commitment.”
Volunteers were excited to see coffee cakes and Rice Krispie treats waiting for them Thursday morning before they grabbed their cargo to deliver.
“We like to give them little snacks to show they’re appreciated, and we have pizza once a week,” Ms. Anderson said.
The nonprofit currently covers Gregg, Henderson, Smith, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood counties with nearly 3,500 clients each day. Currently, there are about 40 volunteers and five routes open, Powell said.
When asked why they volunteer, the Fieldings looked at each other with surprise at the question.
“Well, there’s a need for it,” Fielding said. “It keeps us active. We see a lot of people we wouldn’t be able to visit otherwise. It’s part of our charity work.”