Since last year, Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit that provides fresh meals to the region's elderly and homebound, has seen a 15 percent increase in the demand for its services. This includes a need for help with weekly meal deliveries and, during the holidays, donated gifts and volunteers willing to adopt a route as part of the Holiday Angels program.
"Our biggest need is to have people come in on a regular basis to deliver [meals] to the clients," Farell says, adding that all routes take less than two hours to drive. But Farell says MOW's desire is not only to meet their clients' practical need for food, but also to brighten the holiday season for those who might otherwise be forgotten. "Any donation is always greatly appreciated," she says.
Holiday Angels, conducted in partnership with McKesson Medical-Surgical, involves the community through gift donations and route adoptions. For route adoption, MOW staffers identify a route of about eight to 12 individuals: "Our client-services department hand-picks clients that we feel would benefit from an extra-special gift," Farell says. Volunteers are given the number of male and female clients, or a wish list is sent to each client. Volunteers then shop for and deliver the gifts the week before or the week of Christmas.
Farell, who adopted a route a couple years ago with her husband, says the adopted clients were "very gracious and thankful for getting something. Most of the time they said, ‘I did not expect it — this is such a great surprise. It's so great that someone is thinking of me.' "
For the routes that are not specifically adopted, the Holiday Angels gift drive provides clients with a wrapped holiday present as well, through the gift drive. The invitation to the public invites the donation of a range of new, unwrapped items, from perfume, necklaces and wallets to shaving cream, shampoo and razors.
"We try to at least give something over the holidays to our clients," Farell says.
The gifts are then wrapped and delivered by MOW volunteers, along with clients' meals.
Gifts can be dropped off at the MOW Distribution Center (1600 Willow Lawn Drive) through Dec. 4, Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Collection bins for MOW will also be positioned near the registers of 57 area CVS pharmacies.
For a complete list of acceptable items, visit mowdelivers.com or call Jackie Farell at 673-5035.