Spirit of Thanksgiving: Volunteers deliver 266 food bags on holiday for Meals on Wheels
By Emma Daniel
For the Enquirer
On Thanksgiving Day, sisters Liz Johnson, Tracy Knop and Jamie Bayne loaded an SUV with about 50 bags full of food and the smiles on their faces.
They were helping deliver meals to people in need on the holiday morning through an effort in which Hartselle’s West End United Methodist Church partnered with Meals on Wheels through the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama.
“There’s so many in our community that can’t afford groceries, and it’s not necessarily the elderly, it’s everyone,” Johnson said to explain why she volunteered to help.
The church of 44 members with the help of six outside donors managed to provide 266 meal bags, each for a different individual.
The meal bags cost about $18 apiece and represented a total of $4,788 in food for people in need, said Amanda Porter, the organizer of the church’s meal drop-off. The bags contained canned vegetables, instant potatoes, canned ham and dessert snacks.
She said one bag of food will feed an individual four times.
Groups loaded up their vehicles and set off on routes door-to-door.
Porter said she felt fulfilled from giving people in need meals because she was helped by Meals on Wheels in the past.
“When I was a child, we were very, very poor, and I didn’t have a dad,” she said. “Meals on Wheels helped feed us often. Coming from being poor and not knowing where my meals were coming from, I don’t want anybody else to feel that way, especially on one of the biggest family holidays there is.”
She said she wanted to make sure everyone felt the love she felt Thanksgiving was all about.
“For somebody to sit there and not have any food and not have anybody to come see them, that’s lonely, and that doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “If I can make someone not feel lonely and give them food, that’s a lot of love, and that’s something they may not have had.”
Elizabeth Patterson, 81, said she was grateful to receive the meal bag and the fellowship from the people delivering her food Thursday.
“It’s a blessing,” she said. “I’m thanking God for my blessings right now.”
William Davis, 83, agreed.
“It feels good to wake up and have someone call to say I’d be getting a meal today,” he said.
But the good feelings weren’t limited to the people getting food — those delivering said they felt fulfilled giving back to the community.
The sisters Johnson, Knop and Bayne appreciated delivering meals together, not only for the feeling of fulfillment, but to spend time with each other.
“We get to spend this time with each other, and we pick at each other and make it fun,” Johnson said.
But they were aware of how much they were helping people in need.
Bayne said, “We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s so satisfying. Sometimes this is the only interaction these people get.”
The sisters said spreading good energy and smiles and hugs was a huge part of what made delivering the meals enjoyable.
“Everybody needs a little help and a little pre-Christmas cheer,” Knop said. “This is just like trick-or-treating, except we’re giving.”