By Kelly Neufeld
One need not be wealthy or highly trained to make a charitable contribution to one’s community. While some seniors have medical training and can assist in refugee camps in Uganda there are many other opportunities closer to home. Everyone has the capacity to help in some manner.
The ability to drive is the main requirement for volunteers at the charity organization Meals on Wheels. But those without cars can still help out in other ways such as in the office or in the kitchen. Some volunteers even deliver meals on the backs of their bikes, combining their exercise and volunteering.
Meals on Wheels delivers free or subsidized meals to seniors, people with disabilities, and people recovering from illnesses. The program allows people to live in their own homes and provides inexpensive healthy meal options. Some chapters also prepare meals for the homeless and bring meals for school children. If you know of someone who would appreciate the meals you can order daily fresh meals or frozen dinners for them.
Many of the recipients are unable to get to the grocery store and may not be able to cook. When people are sick making a healthy meal is the last thing they feel like doing but also very important for their recovery. The meals are nutritionally balanced and reviewed by a registered dietitian.
Meals on Wheels is more than just food. As one volunteer, Barry, pointed out a volunteer may be the only person a meal recipient sees that day. While dropping off the food, volunteers can ensure the recipients haven’t fallen and injured themselves and act as a safety net. If a recipient doesn’t answer the door, volunteers will try phoning later and will also call an emergency contact, a doctor or as a last resort the police.
Volunteers are the key to the inexpensive meals the organization provides. The cost of the meals is based on the recipient’s income and doesn’t include any delivery costs. People interested in volunteering should contact their local Meals on Wheels organization. With just a few hours a week you can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
If you live in the United States you can visit the Meals on Wheels Association of America to find out where and how you can volunteer.