In this time of economic downturn, many seniors across the country find it increasingly difficult to manage their money. Many often have to choose between paying bills or buying food. Many are on fixed incomes or suffer from physical ailments or disabilities as well. For East Cooper Meals on Wheels, tough times like these only inspire determination, creativity, and support.
“I think many people recognize the name ‘Meals on Wheels,’ and are aware of what we do,” says Martha Kelly, the development assistant at East Cooper Meals on Wheels. “But I think the misconception is that they think we’re only catering to the extremely poor. There are people out there who live in upscale subdivisions and are financially well-off, but if they have a physical condition that prevents them from preparing meals, we will help them. They may have a kitchen full of food, but they may not be able to physically prepare it.”
Over the years, East Cooper Meals on Wheels has evolved into something more than a food delivery service. The group now provides personalized contact and interaction for many who are lonely.
“Sometimes, the volunteers who deliver to the recipients are the only people they interact with for long periods of time,” Kelly says. “When our volunteers go to these homes and find that there is a need or a concern, they immediately contact the staff in the office and we contact the contact person of the recipient. If there’s no heat and air conditioning, we contact another organization to help them meet those needs. We can’t pay their electric bill, but we can refer them to organizations who can help them.”
Since January, there has been an increase in meal deliveries by an estimated 18 percent. Staffers expect this to increase as the economy takes a downturn. “Because of this we have a greater need for monetary support, and our pantry is in critical need of non-perishable items,” Kelly says.
In the face of inflated gas and food prices and economic hardships across the area, Kelly and the staff greatly appreciate their volunteer force — particularly drivers. “A lot of our volunteers are on a fixed income, and the money they use to buy gas comes out of their own pockets,” says Kelly. “We’ve created a program for gas relief where people can donate money just for that particular thing. We buy gas cards and give them to the volunteers, which helps them.”
East Cooper Meals on Wheels
P.O. Box 583 • Mt. Pleasant, S.C. 29465
(843) 881-9350 • www.ecmow.org
What It Is
A locally-operated organization based in Mt. Pleasant that delivers daily meals to residents of the East Cooper area who are either homebound or unable to provide or prepare their own meals.
What $25 Would Do
• Provide part of the cost of purchasing fresh-made, hot meals to be delivered
• Provide part of the cost of delivery
• Feed five local seniors in need of a nutritious hot meal
• Financial donations
• Local volunteers willing to work a few hours a week as a packer, driver, or assistant
• Canned or packaged food items, such as fruit, soup, stuffing, vegetables, pasta, tuna, sauce, cereal, jelly, and rice
• Gas cards for drivers