Lots of bellies will be filled after a king-size food drive rounded up $20,000 in non-perishable food for a pair of Littleton charities. A group of six metro-area congregations of the Church of Jesus …
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Lots of bellies will be filled after a king-size food drive rounded up $20,000 in non-perishable food for a pair of Littleton charities.
A group of six metro-area congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints collected several carloads of food in mid-April. On April 27, parishioners donated the haul to the St. Mary Parish Pantry, a west Littleton food bank, and Nourish Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to homebound seniors and people with disabilities.
“Our church teaches a strong work ethic, and taking care of our communities,” said Doug Robinson, the director of public affairs for the group of churches. “Right now, what our community needs is food.”
The donations were welcome news to Diane McClymonds, the executive director of Meals on Wheels. The group has seen need climb since the COVID-19 shutdowns began, driven in part by seniors and immunocompromised people who may have ventured out occasionally for groceries or restaurant meals, but are now completely homebound.
The group saw a 9% jump in clients in March — about the normal growth for a year — and is now topping 500 meals a day, McClymonds said.
Meanwhile, the group has reduced delivery days from five days a week to just Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to help reduce possible virus exposure to volunteer drivers, many of whom are elderly themselves. Drivers now drop off a hot meal for the day, and a frozen meal for the next — and a bag of groceries every Wednesday.
“We're trying to help keep folks out of grocery stores,” McClymonds said.
One of the harder parts of the pandemic is that drivers can't visit with clients anymore. Instead, Meals on Wheels switched to calling clients to see how they're doing.
“Our clients are pragmatic,” McClymonds said. “They don't like to complain or be a bother. But we know they get lonely.”
Some volunteers have been bringing cards and letters to clients, and McClymonds said more are always welcome.
Only a quarter of clients are able to pay the full $5 cost of a meal, and more than half cannot pay anything, meaning the group is reliant on community donations to keep seniors fed with healthy food.
Thankfully, donations have been strong, McClymonds said, but they'll need to stay strong as the pandemic drags on.
“It's been humbling and heartwarming to see people recognizing the need among our seniors,” she said. “We feel really blessed.”
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