By Lily Belcher
Over the summer, Meals on Wheels expanded its reach to the residents of Gibsonton and Riverview, providing hot meals to seniors and the homebound daily. Now, Meals on Wheels is asking for more volunteers to help distribute meals and smiles to its customers.
“Any volunteer gift or their help makes such a difference to our homebound neighbors, who, many of them, will not see another live person until the next volunteer delivers to them,” said Senior Director of Mission Engagement Cindy Vann. “I think it just really strengthens the community to just have everybody kind of come together and take care of each other—taking care of those who are homebound … and helping us realize that showing up is such a big part.”
Community members 18 and older can volunteer to pick up and deliver the food produced in Meals on Wheels’ commercial kitchen to eight or more houses along a set route. Volunteers that apply will be asked to get a background check and attend a virtual orientation to train them on their responsibilities as a volunteer.
On select days, volunteers will arrive at First Baptist Riverview to pick up a cooler and hot bag in their own cars. They will then receive their route (on paper or through Meals on Wheels’ new app) and deliver meals to eight to 14 houses before returning the cooler/hot bag to First Baptist Riverview.
Although volunteers are asked to be 18 or older, high school students can drive with an adult to help pass out the meals. High schoolers can receive two service hours for each route they participate in.
“It’s a great thing to do with a group … our recipients just love to see young people. There is just such a hope and a brightness [they] bring to the mission. It is a wonderful way to connect with a part of our community that sometimes is forgotten,” said Vann.
Meals on Wheels is currently looking for more volunteers to fulfill orders. Each route typically takes 20 volunteers, and they see a need to expand the number of routes they serve.