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Volunteers flock to help deliver meals

By Jade DeGood, jdegood@kwch.com
Published On: Feb 06 2014 04:17:54 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 09:06:14 PM CST
WICHITA, Kan. -

Negative wind chills didn't stop dozens from braving the cold and snow-packed roads to make sure those in need get a hot meal.

Meals on Wheels usually delivers 900-960 meals each day to those who are home-bound or elderly.

"Generally we have about 70 people who take a route each day and volunteer to do that," said Chris Heiman, Development Director at Senior Services, Inc. "Rarely do we have to cancel our routes, usually just in times like this week. We don't want to put anyone at risk or put anyone out on those roads."

Tuesday and Wednesday the program had to cancel meal deliveries because of dangerous conditions.

"For so many of our clients on Meals on Wheels, the volunteer is the only person they are going to see that day," said Heiman. "So if we have to miss because of weather it could become a life threatening thing for most of these people. It's not just a daily nutritious meal that they receive, it's also a safety check to make sure they're ok and everything's working. Especially in this weather."

Meals on Wheels saw 71 volunteers Thursday, with at least 15 of those first timers. Heiman said the staff there received 150-200 calls from the community to volunteer and are also completely booked for Friday as well.

Eyewitness News reporter Jade DeGood picked up a route to deliver 22 meals to folks in north Wichita. One of the women she delivered a meal to was Beverly. Her son answered the door and said he's so thankful this program is here for his mom.

"Mom is 84-years-old, she has stage one dementia, so we have good days and bad days," said Juan Gutierriz. "This guarantees that she has a nutritious meal."

Gutierriz said he tries to cook her breakfast and dinner, but the meal from Meals on Wheels helps ensure she has a balanced meal when he isn't able to.

"It's just amazing having that opportunity to have a nutritious meal for her and for all the volunteers that put out the effort to bring them to her," said Gutierriz.

Long-time volunteer, Charlie Moyer showed up on his usual day to run the route he takes every Thursday.

"I see 25% newer people here today," he said. "I think the media has really helped with this."

He said it was hard not being able to deliver on Wednesday.

"For lots of them, this is the only person they see during the day," he said. "Once or twice a month, we deliver bad weather meals that they can have in case of days like yesterday and the day before, but they only have one or two of those. They're out of those meals."

Along with approximately 50 regularly scheduled volunteers, several new volunteers showed up after hearing about the need.

"We saw it on the news last night from you guys and called this morning," said Travis Rink, who brought his two kids to help volunteer. "We thought we'd get out and volunteer since we didn't have school for a third day."

Meals on Wheels often needs help delivering the food for those who can't get out of their homes. If you would like to volunteer call 316-267-0122.

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