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Meals on Wheels volunteers needed

Six different routes in Washington County need drivers

December 07, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Drivers are needed for six different Meals on Wheels routes in Washington County. NOTE: An earlier version of this graphic contained an incorrect phone number.
By Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

The Washington County Commission on Aging is looking for more volunteers for its Meals on Wheels program, which includes delivering hot meals to around 130 seniors at home each day around noon, according to Hilary Lo, community educator for the commission.

“Around the holidays when we’re feasting with our families, it’s a time when we also think of our neighbors who are in need,” she said. “Most of the volunteers are seniors, so sometimes they can stop volunteering when they get to a certain age where they can’t drive, so we need to recruit new drivers.”

Six different routes need drivers.

Lo added that this year the program has extended its outreach for volunteers beyond what it usually does, including taking out an ad in The Herald-Mail.

“This is our initial attempt out in the public,” she said. “We’ve advertised in our e-newsletter that goes out to about 450 seniors, we have advertised at our temporary senior center, and we have tried to do recruitment at local churches, and usually that works, but we have so many routes that need new drivers ...”

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Each route can last one to two hours, and the seniors receive meals everyday, even though a volunteer does not have to deliver everyday, Lo said. The current routes needing new drivers include Tuesday and every other Friday in the West End of Hagerstown; Wednesday in the South End (temporarily) and part of the North End; Tuesday and Friday in part of the East End and Williamsport; and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday along U.S. 40.

The program has 50 to 60 volunteers, but more are needed because of how long some of the routes can take, according to program manager Hannah Cramer.

“Some of the routes cover a very big area and might take up to two hours,” she said. “We don’t like to ask that of our volunteers, so that’s why we need folks so that we can divide some of our longer routes.”

Lo said another way to volunteer for Meals on Wheels is to sponsor a senior. Volunteers can sponsor five meals for seniors in a week for $27.50; 20 meals for seniors in a month for $110; 120 meals for seniors over six months for $660; or 240 meals for seniors over a year for $1,320. The amounts listed are suggestions, according to a release from the commission.

Lo said sponsors could expand the number of people receiving services.

“Right now, we have a wait list, so if somebody pledged they could take someone who is in urgent need of having this service off the wait list, and they could become a regular recipient,” she said. “There’s always a greater need to serve than we have funding for.”

There are 11 routes in the county, according to Cramer. Food for the routes is picked up daily at Northern Middle, Boonsboro Middle and Clear Spring Middle schools, and Smithsburg High School.

Cramer said she was hopeful the program would get the volunteers it needs by the beginning of the year.

“There are always folks that in their hearts feel as though they need to provide some service,” she said.

“When you talk about older folks, children, or folks that are hungry, if they know that there’s a need, they’re pretty quick to fill it.”

Most Meals on Wheels recipients live alone and are low-income, according to the commission’s release.

The program is partially funded by United Way of Washington County.

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