Well over 100 volunteers went to the Commons at Hilltop, 625 27 ½ Rd., to deliver meals to homebound seniors on Christmas Eve.
The seniors are Meals on Wheels clients. Every Dec. 24 for the past seven years, Hilltop will step in to give Meals on Wheels a break around the holidays. But 2020’s iteration was arguably more important than the previous six.
“The need for meals has doubled and we’ve doubled the amount of volunteers,” said Paige Cadman, special events coordinator for Hilltop. “These meals go throughout the entire Grand Valley to seniors who aren’t seeing a lot of folks this year, family or friends.”
Hilltop and volunteers prepared 680 meals for seniors this year and 135 drivers signed up to deliver them. They would pull into the gravel parking lot in the back of the building and wait in a drive-thru line. Someone in the car provided their name to a volunteer, and then received the meal, directions and delivery instructions.
Each meal contained turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy and apple pie.
“They drop the meal off at the doorstep, ring the bell, take a step or two back and wait for the client to grab their meal,” Cadman said. “We tell them to play off the client. Some want to have a conversation while others don’t.”
Ashley Elliott and her family have been volunteering at Hilltop every Christmas Eve for the past three years but have also volunteered at other locations.
Giving back to a community that has blessed them is an Elliott family value, she said.
“Not only are you delivering a meal but also a smile, friendship and community to isolated seniors,” Elliott said.
The call to action rang to new volunteers, too.
Morgaan Walters-Schaler volunteered for the first time on Wednesday. She has worked at Hilltop for about a year and wanted to volunteer since she first heard about it.
It’s been a trying 2020 for everyone, but especially so to a population at more of a risk to COVID-19. Providing a meal and friendly face to the seniors is the least people can do, Walters-Schaler said.
“It’s been isolating and lonely for them,” she said. “So if we can do something, anything, for them to make life a little bit easier today, then we should.”